‘Deep sadness’ as former Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, father of singer-songwriter Neil Hannon, dies

Former Church of Ireland bishop Brian Hannon, the father of famous singer-songwriter Neil Hannon, has died.

By Niall Deeney
Monday, 10th January 2022, 3:08 pm
Bishop Brian Hannon. Image courtesy of the Church of Ireland
Bishop Brian Hannon. Image courtesy of the Church of Ireland

The Rt Revd Brian Hannon was Bishop of Clogher from 1986 to 2001.

The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, the Most Revd John McDowell, and the Bishop of Clogher, the Rt Revd Dr Ian Ellis, have issued statements following his death on Monday morning.

Archbishop McDowell remarked: “It is with a sense of deep sadness that I learned of the death of the Rt Revd Brian Hannon. Brian was deeply loved by so many people in the Diocese of Clogher who knew him well, and just as deeply respected right across the Church which he served with diligence, with good humour, and with dignity. His whole character and outlook on life were moulded by a lifelong discipleship of Jesus Christ, so any words he spoke in public carried the weight of his own integrity.

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“He ministered in times and places which were amongst the most difficult during the Troubles, yet he did so without growing bitter or cynical. He spoke and acted always with compassion and understanding and did all in his power to work towards peaceful outcomes in a divided society.”

He continued: “Brian had large affections: for the countryside of the west of Northern Ireland; for classical music which he played so movingly on the piano; for the family of the Church of Ireland. His love for his wife Maeve and for his sons, Desmond, Brendan and Neil, was deep and unclouded. His love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, was unmistakable.

“My prayers, and I know the prayers of so many within and beyond the Church, will be with Maeve and the family as they come to terms with their great loss. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.’”

Bishop Ian Ellis commented: “Parishioners and clergy of Clogher Diocese and the wider community will be greatly saddened by the news of the death of the Rt Revd Brian Hannon. Bishop Brian was much loved and admired for his spiritual and pastoral support for his people, especially in providing leadership through days of disruption and violence in Northern Ireland. His patient, prayerful approach and commitment to enhancing education and community life is fondly remembered by all within this diocese, the Church of Ireland and the wider Anglican Communion. He and his wife Maeve devoted themselves to all aspects of diocesan life where their gifts of ministry were offered so generously.

“We thank God for everything Bishop Brian shared with the clergy and people of this diocese: for his kind and gracious manner, his caring and compassionate ministry, his musical talents, and wise and gentle leadership.”

He added: “As a diocese we hold in our prayers his dear wife Maeve, and sons, Desmond, Brendan and Neil, in their time of grief and loss. ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.’”

The Rt Revd Brian Desmond Anthony Hannon (born 1936) was educated at Trinity College Dublin and ordained in 1961; he served firstly in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe as Curate in Clooney (1961-1964), Rector of Desertmartin (1965-1969), and Rector of Christ Church, Londonderry (1970-1982). From 1982, he was Rector of the Parish of Enniskillen (St Macartin’s Cathedral) in the Diocese of Clogher, firstly appointed Canon and becoming Dean of Clogher in 1985. He was elected Bishop of Clogher in May 1986 and consecrated in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, in June of that year. Bishop Hannon retired in 2001 on his 65th birthday.