News from Wexford this week brings the sad tidings that one of AOIFE ‘s original founder Rev. Walter Forde, Bunclody’s native son passed away at his residence attached to the Church where ministered in Castlebridge.
Fr. Forde was the first PRO of the fledgling Association from 1993 up to 1998, when pressure of being the Diocesean Press Secretary and some health worries saw him step down.
His work from his earlier career as a youth worker first , community development worker and a professional media specialist proved hugely invaluable in the early days and he alongside Eileen O Loughlin, Victor Ryan and Paddy Murphy travelled the length and breadth of the country to recruit and train new members.
His wit, his organisational knowledge and deep Christian belief in assisting all that was local and at the heart of a community – including our annual festivals was profound.
Fr. Walter Forde grew up in Bunclody where he had a happy childhood. He went to St. Peter’s College in Wexford as a boarder and completed his studies for the priesthood in Maynooth. He returned to St. Peter’s teaching Greek and Latin but described himself as the “world’s worst teacher”! In 1973 he became general secretary of the National Federation of Youth Clubs. He agreed to take up a curacy in Gorey and was there for 22 years, later retiring to St. Ivors in Castlebridge.
Through his work in Community Development he was heavily involved in the setting up of the Gorey Arts Festival and later the Enniscorthy Strawberry Fair Walter was a keen historian and set up the annual Byrne-Perry Summer School. He was also involved with the Christian Media Trust and was a regular presenter on South-East Radio.
To his family, parishoners we offer our deepest condolences. The festival and event sector owes him a treasured place in our collective memory.
Ar Dheis De go Raibh a hAnaim Dilis