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Coptic clerics are at present visiting Dublin. I wish them a Céad Míle Fáilte. Over the years I have developed a special grá for the Coptic Church.

Coptic Orthodox priest Fr Tom Flanagan and his wife Bay lived here in Wexford. Sadly Tom passed away last May. Born in Plymouth, Fr Flanagan grew up with Irish roots. His father was from W
aterford and mother from Ringaskiddy.

He studied for the priesthood in Egypt and later went to Spain where he became coach to the national Spanish rugby team. He served as a referee for 18 international rugby games. His sporting interest also spread to the world of tennis. He was a tennis coach to many renowned players, including champions Virginia Wade and Sue Barker.

In Ireland he ministered to the Egyptian, Ethiopian, Sudanese and Syrian communities. Being from the ancient Coptic Orthodox religion, he often jokingly said that he was the only 'real' priest in Ireland.

Fr Flanagan was a great friend of ours and visited us. He had a witty nature and sense of fun and is sadly missed on the streets of Wexford.


Father Flanagan sounds like a charming and unique man
i would love to know his story - particularly in his own words
what led him to embrace the Coptic way?
and the very professional knowledge of rugby and tennis
a very remarkable man
The local Coptic bishop came to speak at my synagogue in London a few years ago, as a result of which I can identify parts of the gents' attire above. (The headcovering with the stars on it worn by the man on the extreme right is that of a monk; this will also be under the turban-shaped hats of the higher clerics, as all Coptic bishops have to be monks.)

At the time, I lived only a few minutes' walk away from my local Coptic church. It was odd to see a church with gold-painted icons inside labelled in Arabic (along with Coptic script).