Bishop-Elect Father Martin Hayes

Pope Francis Appoints Fr Martin Hayes as the new Bishop of Kilmore, Ireland

A Priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly

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Pope Francis on June 29, 2020, appointed Father Martin Hayes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, as the new Bishop of Kilmore, Ireland.

Life and Ministry of Bishop-elect Hayes

Early life, education and career

Bishop-elect Martin Hayes was born in Borris (Newhill), Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co Tipperary on October 24,  1959.  His late parents were Daniel and Mary Agnes (née Bowe), and Martin is the eldest of five sons and three daughters, one of whom died in infancy.

Martin received his primary school education in Saint Kevin’s National School, Littleton, and secondary school education in CBS, Thurles.  In September 1977, he began his studies in Production Engineering at NIHE Limerick, now the University of Limerick.  As part of the course program, he worked at Wyeth Ireland in Askeaton, Co Limerick (1979), and at Ecco Ltd in Dundalk, Co Louth (1980).  Martin graduated in 1981 with a BSc in Manufacturing Technology.  In November 1981 Martin took up a position as a quality engineer with Amdahl Computers in Swords, Dublin, completing his initial orientation with the parent plant in Silicon Valley, California, where he was given responsibility for setting up quality control systems for new products.

During his studies in Limerick, Martin became involved in Muintearas Íosa, a youth faith initiative that continues to keep the three flames of Fáilte (welcome), Foghlaim (learning), and Guí (prayer) alive in the diocese.  He was instrumental in organizing Muintearas Íosa events in Dublin and in his native Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly in the early 1980s.  

Entry to seminary, ordination, further studies, teaching at Saint Patrick’s College, Thurles, and work with ACCORD Marriage Care

In September 1983, Father Martin entered Saint Patrick’s College, Thurles, Co Tipperary, to study for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly.  Having completed a Certificate in Philosophical Studies and a Diploma in Theology he was ordained deacon on April 4, 1988, and to the priesthood on June 10, 1989, by the Archbishop Dermot Clifford.

Father Martin undertook further studies at the Gregorian University, Rome, and completed a Licentiate in Philosophy (Anthropology) in 1991 while staying at the Pontifical Irish College.  He was then appointed to the teaching staff at Saint Patrick’s College, Thurles, and taught philosophy until 2001.  During this period of his ministry, Father Martin worked as a marriage preparation course facilitator with Accord, served as its Diocesan Director with the personnel of the Thurles and Tipperary centers, and established an administrative office to coordinate Accord’s activities.  In 1997, he was appointed Bursar at Saint Patrick’s College, Thurles.  As part of diocesan millennium initiatives and in cooperation with the then Mid-Western Health Board, Father Martin was instrumental is setting up SUAS (Suicide: Understanding and Support) – a listening service for those bereaved by suicide.  Throughout his time at Saint Patrick’s College, he worked in parishes in the Diocese of Sacramento, California, during the summer months.

In August 2001, Father Martin undertook a sabbatical year studying at the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California, and separately at Tabgha Farm – Centre for Ecology & Spirituality, located in Cessnock, New South Wales, Australia.

Appointment to parish work and involvement with diocesan initiatives

In September 2002, Father Martin was appointed as curate to Thurles Parish with responsibility for Saints Joseph & Brigid Church, Bothar na Naomh.  He resumed his facilitation of marriage preparation courses with Accord Thurles, served on the Accord National Executive Council, and provided supervisory support for Accord personnel in the South-East Region.  He became an active member of the ‘Cashel & Emly Ongoing Formation and Education of Priests Committee’ from its inception in 2003.

Father Martin worked as a part-time lecturer in Introduction to Philosophy on the newly established Bachelor of Arts in Education, Business Studies & Religious Studies course for secondary school student teachers which was delivered in Saints Patrick’s College, Thurles.  He also engaged with the two-year Ecology & Theology program provided by the Columban Fathers, in Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath, on an audit basis.

In July 2007, Father Martin was appointed Administrator of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles.  Working in collaboration with a group of laypeople, he encouraged the celebration of relationships with the established voluntary organizations in Thurles, promoting the ongoing development of pastoral outreach and faith development groups which culminated in the formation of a Parish Pastoral Council in 2017.

During Father Martin’s term as Administrator, Saints Joseph & Brigid’s Church, Bothar na Naomh was renovated, a Pastoral Centre (Lámh Chunta) was constructed and the cathedral presbytery was refurbished. During this period, Father Martin was elected a member of the Cashel & Emly Council of Priests, having previously served as its recording secretary. Father Martin was also appointed as a member of the diocesan committee for safeguarding children.

In 2014, with the appointment of Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA as Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Father Martin co-ordinated the efforts of all involved in the preparations for his Episcopal installation at the Cathedral of the Assumption on 8 February 2015.  Elected chairman of the new Council of Priests, and subsequently re-elected in 2020, Father Martin became involved as a member of the newly established Diocesan Pastoral Council.  He was also a member of the Seinn Diocesan Committee which promotes and organizes liturgical singing and music events involving the secondary school students at the cathedral.

Appointment to pastoral planning and development work

In August 2017 Father Martin was appointed to the full time position of Director of Pastoral Planning & Development in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly and he took up residence at the Parochial House, Knockanrawley, Tipperary Town.  In conjunction with the Diocesan Pastoral Council, he co-ordinated the diocesan-wide ‘Listening Process’ with 46 parishes over 2017-18, alongside a ‘Listening to Priests’, commissioned by the Archdiocese.

In preparation for the 9th World Meeting of Families (WMOF) and the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018, Father Martin served as delegate for the diocese and this involved chairing its WMOF Diocesan Committee, organising a Diocesan Family Fun Day, producing a Family Prayer Booklet and co-ordinating diocesan liturgies.

After WMOF Father Martin’s focus returned to the diocesan consultation as the outcomes of both listening processes became the subject of ongoing discussion with priests and parish groups at ‘Gatherings of Parishes’ throughout 2019.  This has resulted in the establishment of necessary supports for priests and interim training for parish leadership groups.  A draft pastoral plan was formulated in spring 2020 and feedback is currently being processed with a view to implementing a Diocesan Pastoral Plan for parishes over the years 2020-2025.

Information on the Diocese of Kilmore

The Diocese of Kilmore includes almost all of County Cavan and a portion of Counties Leitrim, Fermanagh, Meath and Sligo.  The diocese has a Catholic population of about 69,000 people, served by 51 priests, who minister in 35 parishes comprising 95 churches.  The patrons of the diocese are Saint Patrick, who is celebrated on 17 March, and Saint Felim on 9 August.  See

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