It was standing room only on Thursday night (April 28) at Damer House for the launch of Bishop Willie Walsh’s autobiography ‘No Crusader’.
John Butler of Bookworm Bookshop in Thurles who organised the launch welcomed the audience, Fr. Tom Corbett and the guest of honour Bishop Willie Walsh.
He then invited Fr. Tom, local parish co-ordinator and long time friend of Bishop Willie, to perform the official launch.
In launching ‘No Crusader’, Fr. Corbett gave a very witty and memorable speech and spoke fondly of their long friendship. He paid tribute to Willie Walsh’s loyalty, humility, generosity and kindness, traits which he displayed all through his life as a priest and bishop. Fr. Corbett also praised Willie’s ability as a writer and said that ‘No Crusader’ is much more than an autobiography but a thoughtful reflection on church, faith and society today.
Bishop Willie thanked Fr. Corbett for his tribute and said that he never intended to write a book. He light-heartedly told of how Michael Brennan of Columba Press had approached him a number of years ago about it and had put “no pressure” on him. Michael persisted putting “no pressure” on Bishop Willie until he eventually relented. He said his experience with life threatening illness was a big influence on his decision to write the book as he felt more reflective. In his speech Bishop Willie revealed his deep attachment to his home place in Roscrea, remembering all the neighbouring families and homesteads, many no longer there. He spoke of his strong family ties to Roscrea and to friendships that have sustained down all the years.
Bishop Willie also spoke of faith and said that just because someone is a bishop does not mean he does not have doubt or uncertainty. He said he believes that a Christian life is more about living with uncertainty than a blind faith.
In speaking about the Church, Bishop Walsh said that if given a choice between the certain, powerful and controlling Church of before and the wounded, humbled and more honest Church of today, he would have no difficulty in making his choice.
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by Roscrea Folk Group who persuaded Bishop Willie to join them in a wonderful rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
Audience members travelled from all parts of both Killaloe and Cashel Dioceses to honour a favourite son of not one but two counties and the huge attendance is testament to the high regard in which Bishop Willie Walsh is held.