Br Ciarán Forbes OSB



 Died, Saturday 1st January 2022

aged 79, in the 59th year of monastic profession

Tadhg Eoin Forbes (Mac Firbhisigh) was born on 19th August 1942. From a large family in Wellington Road in Dublin, he received his secondary education at the nearby Gonzaga College. After a short time working as an apprentice bank clerk, he entered Glenstal Abbey in 1961 and was given the name Ciaran, in honour of the great abbot of Clonmacnois. He professed simple vows in September 1963, and after philosophical studies in the monastery, in 1965 went to Belgium for theological studies at Sint-Andriesabdij, Zevenkerken, near Brugge, which was then a French-speaking community.

Br Ciarán later spoke of his three years in Belgium as an experience of awakening to the depth and beauty of music and literature, and his love for these arts was to be a constant throughout his life. In the monastery he served as First Chanter during a period when the community made several commercial recordings. Among classical composers his hero was Mozart, while his literary hero was the Danish writer Karen Blixen. He was an utterly devoted admirer of the performances of the contemporary Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

After his studies in Belgium, Br Ciarán taught Irish and French in the school, also serving as housemaster to the junior students. In 1970, two students introduced him to woodturning and he began experimenting on a lathe that they owned. The monastery eventually acquired its own lathe, and Br Ciarán went on to study the craft at the Kilkenny Design Workshop in Dublin and with a master craftsman in Devon, England. From the late 1970s, his prize-winning work was being exhibited and sold to great acclaim, both in Ireland and further afield. He was a founder member of the Irish Woodturners Guild, and went on to spend three years teaching the craft at the Letterfrack Furniture School in Connemara. As the years passed and his reputation grew, bowls by Br Ciarán were, on more than one occasion, presented by the Irish government as gifts to visiting dignitaries.

Throughout his latter years, Br Ciarán was a regular presence in the public areas of the monastery. Often accompanied by his beloved dog, Bede, he toured the grounds in an old golf buggy, offering a warm welcome to all whom he encountered. He maintained an extensive network of close friends in the local area. Having rung in the New Year with the community, he died peacefully in his sleep on 1st January 2022.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

 Reposing in Meehan’s Funeral Home, Newport, Co. Tipperary, from 2.00pm until 4.00pm on Tuesday 4th January. Funeral Mass in the abbey church on Wednesday 5th January at 12.10pm. Interment in the abbey cemetery will take place at a later date, following private cremation.

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