In Memoriam: Br. Matthias Colm Comyns (1938 – 2019)

Date: 18/01/2019

Venue: Mt. St. Joseph, Cork

Br. Matthias entered the spiritual phase of life in The Bon Secour Hospital on the morning of Jan 16th 2019 after a long illness bravely borne. He had returned to Ireland from Grenada before Christmas in a very poor state of health after several heart events which had left him with very low heart functionality. His family had gathered around his bed in an extraordinary show of love and affection for their brother, uncle, granduncle whom they had only met on rare holidays home to West Clare. It was clear that he had made a profound impact not only on his own siblings but also on the younger nieces and nephews.

He was born in Tarmon near Kilkee into a small farm which was later purchased and shared out by the Land Commission. He had three brothers, Noel, Michael and Tom and a sister Mary all of whom were well educated and gained prominence as athletes of considerable talent, winning national honours.

Colm moved to Colaiste Muire, Douglas, Cork, a boarding school run by the Presentation Brothers, after spending one year in secondary school in Kilkee. He soon established himself as a keen student and as an accomplished footballer and athlete. He would easily have got his place on any County minor team but instead joined the Brothers’ Novitiate in Mt. St. Joseph in 1957 and two years later was professed as Presentation Brothers taking the religious name, Matthias.

In the early 1960’s he attended University College Cork where he graduated with a BA. He returned to UCC in 1974 to complete a Higher Diploma in Education and taught briefly in Colaiste Therese in Cork. It was during this period home that his father died.  A former pupil, businessman Michael Conlon, wrote the following about Matthias in an article entitled ‘Making a Difference:  Stories of Inspirational Teachers’ in the Irish Examiner on Oct 25th 2012:  Over the years I have often thought of Br. Matthias Comyns, and in my mind and imagination, I have transported myself back to his classroom for inspiration, for moral check, for constraint of approach, to find humility, to help myself simplify something I am making complex, to structure sentences, paragraphs and reports, but mostly to touch the passion of a subject’..

In 1964 Matthias volunteered for the West Indies Mission and was posted to the island of Grenada where he was to spend most of his life apart from short stints on the neighbouring island of Trinidad before taking a Sabbatical in the US and returning to his beloved Grenada. He experienced many ups and downs during a turbulent period in the history of Grenada including the revolution of 1979 and the foreign interventions in 1983.   These were traumatic experiences for all, as was the utter devastation of Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

He established himself as a very effective teacher of Geography in Presentation College in the capital, St. George and soon become a dynamic leader of the Boy Scouts on the Island. Among his past pupils and personal friends were the present Prime Minister, Mr. Keith Mitchell. However ‘Matto’, as he was affectionately known, had his focus on the poor people of the Island and helped in a quiet way to provide better accommodation for many of them who lived in small huts in the outskirts of St. George. He also had many regular callers to the Brothers house and discreetly helped many of the poorest people.

His main past-time was golf and he also excelled at this -  being one of the few golfers who got a hole in one on a particular hole, on three separate occasions and was honoured to play for the national Grenada golf team in inter-island competitions. He was also honoured during the Cricket World Cup when asked to present the ball to the Australian Captain. He took all these honours in his stride with little fuss.

He came home to celebrate his 80th birthday with the extended Comyns family in July 2018 and seemed to be in good health and cheerful spirits at that time. However his health started to deteriorate rapidly in November and this led to his travelling home to Ireland for treatment but sadly it was too late. He was a humble and unassuming Presentation Brother and put the needs of others ahead of his own.

Go raibh leaba aige imeasc na naomh .


To access the homily to the funeral mass  Click Here.