Our Bishop

bishopJohn Kirby was born in Baylough, Athlone, the son of Patrick Kirby and Rose McCormack. After his primary education in 'The Batteries' National School, Athlone and secondary education in St. Joseph's College, Garbally Park, Ballinasloe, he went to St. Patrick's College, Maynooth to study for the priesthood.

He was ordained on Sunday, June 23rd, 1963 and his first appointment as a priest was as teacher in St. Joseph's College, Garbally. His main subject was mathematics, which he taught to honours leaving certificate level. During his years in Garbally he involved himself in every aspect of college life and had considerable success as trainer of the senior Rugby Football team.

In September 1979, when Fr. Joseph Cassidy was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Clonfert, he was appointed President and Principal of Garbally College. The college was entering a period of rapid growth at that time and Fr. Kirby oversaw a major building project to extend the classroom accommodation and facilities for staff and students.

In 1988 Bishop Cassidy was transferred to the diocese of Tuam as archbishop and Fr. Kirby was appointed bishop of Clonfert. His episcopal ordination was on Saturday April 9th, 1988.   Bishop Kirby's Episcopal responsibilities on behalf of the Irish Bishops' Conference include - Member of Episcopal Commission for Social Issues and International Affairs, Member of the Council for Justice and Peace (Justice and Peace Ireland).

Member of the Council for Emigrants and President of Trocaire, the Irish Catholic Agency for Third World Development.


coat of arms of john kirby


pope 2001


Bishops of Clonfert Diocese
1847 - 1987

archbishop cassidy  

Bishop Joseph Cassidy 1982 - 1987 (Coadjutor 1979 - 1982)

bishop thomas ryan  

Bishop Thomas Ryan. 1964 - 1982

bishop william philibin  

Bishop William Philibin. 1954 - 1962

bishop john dignan  

Bishop John Dignan. 1924 - 1953


Bishop Thomas O'Doherty 1919 - 1923


Bishop Thomas P. Gilmartin 1910 - 1918


Bishop Thomas O'Dea 1919 - 1923

bishop john healy  

Bishop John Healy. 1896 - 1903 (Coadjtor 1884 - 1896)

bishop patrick duggan  

Bishop Patrick Duggan. 1872 - 1896

bishop john derry  

Bishop John Derry. 1847 - 1870