17 May 2022

Special drive-by celebration for well-known Donegal priest who had to mark his 80th birthday in lockdown

Family and friends gather outside Father Neal Carlin's house

Special drive-by celebration for well-known local priest who had to mark his 80th birthday in lockdown

Fr Neal Carlin of Donegal's IOSAS centre celebrates his 80th Birthday in lockdown

Up to 40 cars created a noisy convoy to drive by the home of Donegal's Fr Neal Carlin to mark his 80th birthday.

Balloon-festoned cars carrying members of Fr Neal's family, members of the Columba Community he founded 40 years ago, and many friends and people whose lives he has touched, took part in the drive by celebrations, on Friday afternoon past.

Fr Neal, who lives near Buncrana, has been cocooning at home since the start of the lockdown.

He founded the Columba Community and together they established St Anthony's Retreat Centre near Bridgend, Whiteoaks Rehabilitation Centre, the IOSAS Centre organic gardens and the Celtic Prayer Garden near Muff.

Fr Neal's sister-in-law Catherine organised the drive-by having first delivered his cake and a huge banner wishing him a happy birthday set up outside his home.

The cavalcade drove around the house then parked on the lawn where everyone sang happy birthday maintaining strict social distancing.

Fr Neal said that while he expected to see a few people he never expected the number of people who did arrive.

“I want to give you all a hug but you know that is out of the question. It is great to see you all here. I was wondering why Brendan cut the lawn the other day. This took some organisation,” he said.

Everyone sang happy birthday to him and then a huge round of applause.

“Just as it rains with water from Heaven I will give you all a blessing.”

He blessed everyone and thanked them for coming and the cavalcade departed.

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