Fr Tony Coote, ADM (16.06.1964 – 28.08.2019)

Remembering Fr Tony Coote, ADM
June 16th, 1964 – August 28th, 2019

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Tony represented the love of God to so many who bore in their heart troubles and doubts. He could do that because he understood what that love of God meant”. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Fr. Tony came to Kilmacud as Administrator in June 2010. He immediately created an impact with his warmth, his humour and his three minute sermons which always delivered a thought-provoking message or question. Every Tuesday and every weekend he joined us in celebrating the Eucharist and throughout the week he could be seen popping in and out of the office and church.
His energy and enthusiasm was boundless and he made his mark in many ways, not least in the renovations to our church building which, while initially not welcomed by everyone, have provided us with a more intimate, brighter and more comfortable setting for our church services and celebrations.
He was determined to support a strong faith community in Kilmacud, supporting parish groups, and reaching out to our young people, to families, to older people and the marginalised in ways that joined us all together in a spirit of community and faith.
In the face of illness and death Fr. Tony left his lasting legacy. In speaking openly about Motor Neurone Disease and its challenges, his absolute acceptance of the will of God and his unshakeable belief that he would see the face of God, he touched the hearts of people – believers and non-believers – not just in Kilmacud, Stillorgan and Mount Merrion, but across Ireland and the world. His words: “I see no meaning in this life ending in a grave. When the train stops I will step onto that platform with hope and no fear” brought consolation and hope to many.
As his brother David said at his funeral, Fr. Tony was a great connector, and his ability to mobilise people for a cause was second to none. Many parishioners joined Fr. Tony on his walk from Donegal to Cork – his ‘Walk While You Can’ charity inspired many, raising awareness of MND and also raising important funds for research and nurses to care for those with MND. Walk While You Can continues to raise vital funds for MND in his memory.
His good work lives on in many ways not least through the UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) which he set up in 2003 when a chaplain at the university and in the now nationwide student-led mental health movement Please Talk. The good he has done also lives on in our parish of Kilmacud where we continue to remember the example he set for us.

Most importantly, it lives on in the hearts of his family whom he loved very much. This weekend our thoughts are especially with his mother Patricia, his brothers Kieran, David, and Pat, sisters-in-law Nicky and Michelle, nieces and nephews Tom, Lily, Charlie and Tara, Jasmyn, Khloe, and Eve, Rían, Oscar and Mikey.

Walk While You Can, Live While You Can, Love While You Can.
May he rest in peace

Blessing of the memorial plaque for Fr. Tony in the side garden of the parish.

2019Paying Tribute to Fr Tony this evening, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said:"Tony showed all of us how strength can be witnessed even in the face of human weakness. His courage leaves all of us more humble. May the Lord welcome & give him the deep peace to which he witnessed in his suffering." May he rest in peace.

Homily from Fr John Kelly
at the Funeral Mass for Fr Tony Coote

Press release – Monday, September 2nd 2019

“Claire Byrne and Ryan Tubridy both introduced Tony to their audience as the legionary priest in Mount Merrion who gave inspirational homilies that are meaningful, humorous, and that people listen to.

Tony’s homilies always had a clear message – he used words carefully and he filled them with humour – not that he was a funny man – I think he left that to his brother Kieron!

His humour reflected the energetic side of his life. Tony, of course, loved a story to anchor his homilies. Tony’s diagnosis with Motor Neuron Disease meant that he himself became the homily –Tony embraced this disease with great resilience, with faith and hope and above all, with two values that set him apart – humility and generosity.

Tony’s depth of humanity that was exceptional if not rare – to mastermind the pilgrimage walk that engaged the country – took a man of great leadership ability, a man with a vision who was articulate and strategic, a motivated priest but as a driven man he could also be stubborn, impulsive and impatient.

However, his intention was to ‘form a community for all’ – and how many people did he connect here through their friendship with him.

Tony had always been a pilgrimage man – from his travels to Lourdes, Croke Patrick, India, Haiti, The Holy Land, World Youth Days, to the local Church of Ireland Church, Glenstall Abbey and to his beloved Glendalough – never alone – always with people especially the youth from Ballymun, UCD, Mount Merrion and beyond. There were other college trips that one day his friends may share – I think Shane said last night he would write the book!

Tony humility and generosity inspired us all: young and old, parishioners, business people, politicians, personalities and especially the people who lined the roads from Letterkenny to Ballydehob. He has been an inspiration, a beacon of light and hope to those who are sick and especially those with Motor Neuron Disease.

On this pilgrimage walk – what became his road to Golgotha – Tony’s sense of fun and humour was infectious and he would often say that laughter was the only thing that made him feel normal.

As Declan, Charlie and myself recalled stories from the seminary, holidays and other events, Tony at this stage without a voice could still fill the house with his laughter.

At Tony’s Book Launch this packed Church both laughed and cried as Tony’s smile and humour filled this space even as he himself was able to joke about the next time he would be wheeled up the aisle – would be in a coffin.

In UCD as he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate, he joked about his being the longest funeral in history.

Walk while you can

Dance while you can

Write while you can

Talk while you can

Knit while you can (he found that hilarious!)

Pray while you can … were not these the ways that Tony was inviting us to join him and LIVE this beautiful but fragile gift of life to the full.

As Jesus said ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’

Tony’s passion to ‘live life to the full’ was to make real the all-embracing, compassionate love of God.

Tony translated the language of the Church and faith and throughout his life. In health and in sickness he mediated God’s meaning for us.

Tony’s thinking and vision for the Christian community went beyond everyday things to imagine the bigger picture.

Tony reflected intelligently on the lives of the people he served –he was passionate about people and he wanted to provide insights that gave hope so that the Christian community could think and act differently.

In the same way that Tony did not want to be defined by his illness he did not want people to be identified by their life choices. For anyone who may feel hurt, excluded and unloved by the Church please reflect on the Gospel of Jesus shared by Tony. He passionately wanted to assure all peoples of the love that Jesus Christ has for them and that we each are a rainbow of this love in the world.

The Homily of Tony’s life is an inclusive – all embracing, compassionate God who is close to all.

From his student days he was inspired by the lives of Oscar Romero and Thomas Merton, by his spiritual directors Martin Rafferty and Michael Paul Gallagher SJ.

Before taking up his appointment here in Mount Merrion – Tony fulfilled a wish and spent a number of months reflecting on the life and writings of Merton in the Abbey of Gethsemani.

The prayer of Thomas Merton gave him great hope and encouragement:

‘Therefore I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone’.

Thankfully Tony’s was never alone – although knowing Tony he would have liked to escape many times!!

Tony was for us a Prophet of Hope – a prophet of hope who enthusiastically shared with us his love of Jesus of Nazareth.

This time of disease became a time of grace for Tony and each one of you and countless others nourished Tony by your great kindness and persistent love.

I know that Tony was overwhelmed by your tenderness and thoughtfulness and that became his most powerful medicine.

He was so blessed in you his friends – extraordinary people who have done extraordinary things to help him reach his destination.

I can only remind you what he himself said: ‘I will pray for you’

Your love and his love is not lost in his death.

What’s the point of putting so much love, care and all your efforts to accompany Tony on his pilgrimage walk if it all ends in death.

This disease may have destroyed his body – death may have broken the bonds of skin and flesh – death cannot break the bond of love.

The God who created Tony, who rejoiced with him on the good days, cried with Tony in this sickness, who was visible in Tony’s broken body is the same God who has restored Tony to the fullness of life, at the core of his love.

Our love for Tony is stronger than death.
Yes, death is real – but the Gospel stories also insist that resurrection is a reality. The reality of everlasting love.


To Tony’s mother Patricia, David, Kieran and Pat, Nicky and Michelle, all the nieces and nephews – I hope you feel the love and care of everyone here today and last night – in this time of great loss for you. Thank you, Pat, for changing from being little brother to big brother and managing all Tony’s affairs.

Jesus was able to say to Mary in the Gospel ‘Do not cling to me’ Tony would want us to LIVE WHILE YOU CAN….he would not want us to cling to him. Once Tony put his mind to something…there was no looking back!


It was Tony’s wish that the following words would be his final word on the recent documentary of Walk While You Can – they were not included – so it’s appropriate to use them today:

They are from: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;

it is a far far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.

And finally – our own Dermot Lane recently said to me:

Tell Tony – the priests of Dublin are proud of him,

Tell Tony – all the people are proud of him.

Do you agree – let’s blast heaven with an almighty clap!”


Fr John Kelly
Director of Pastoral Care, Tallaght University Hospital


“Live While You Can”

Live While You Can - a Memoir of Faith Hope and the Power of Acceptance
“Live While You Can is the inspiring, life-affirming account of finding joy in dark times and living every day in the now. 10% of each copy sold at Dubray will be donated to Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.”
Click here to BUY now…

(Or click to donate to Walk While You Can charity).

August 2019: The Ryan Tubridy Morning Show (RTÉ Radio 1) Pays Tribute to Fr Tony

Friend of the show and an inspiration to us all, Fr Tony Coote passed away…[more]

Aug 2019: The Irish Times (Patsy McGarry)

Full Article:

Aug 2019: The Irish Times (Ronan McGreevy)

June 2018: Archbishop Martin to celebrate a special Mass to support Fr Tony

Archbishop Diarmuid MartinArchbishop Diarmuid Martin will celebrate a Special Mass to Support Fr Tony on Sunday June 24th at 11.30am. This mass will provide Parishioners with an opportunity to support and wish Fr Tony well in advance of his charity walk.
Church door collections will take place at all Masses during the weekend 23rd/24th June in aid of Fr Tony’s Charity ‘Walk while you can’ with all funds going to support ‘Motor Neuron Disease (MND)’.

April 2018: Fr Tony’s interview on The Ryan Tubridy show

Fr Tony Coote, Kilmacud Parish, StillorganTo listen back to Fr Tony’s interview on The Ryan Tubridy show about Motor Neurone Disease, please click here.
To help fight Motor Neurone Disease by donating, please click here.