Help sought for Fr Ray Browne documentary

A local filmmaker is seeking help in order to complete a documentary detailing the life of the late Rev. Fr. Raymond Browne, former parish priest of Kilbride.

Fourmilehouse native, Ronan Carley, has called on those with old photographs, video clips and memories of Fr. Browne to get in touch ahead of the premiere of ‘Fr Ray – A life of Service’ at Roscommon Arts Centre on Thursday, 27th and Friday, 28th of October.

Speaking to the Roscommon People recently, Ronan said the documentary had been a most interesting project to work on. He also credited the late Fr. Browne with giving him his first start in the film industry as he and his young siblings recorded one of the priest’s pilgrimages to Iona in Scotland.

“Fr. Ray had one of those old-style shoulder mounted cameras. It was probably bigger than myself and a less trusting individual might have been reluctant to let it out of their hands! However, one of his constant mantras was to give youth a chance,” he said.

“Fr. Ray would have been familiar to people the length and breadth of the county for his community activism. He was one of those incredibly dynamic people who seemed to have an endless reservoir of energy. If he committed to an endeavor then he was all in-there were no half measures,” he said.

“Born in Sligo and educated in Summerhill, he was ordained in 1954 and spent four years in Nigeria where he worked on the missions. After returning from Africa he was curate in Drumboylan in north Roscommon, for fourteen years. From there, he spent another fourteen years as curate in Roscommon town. His final parish, where he was to spend thirty-four years was my own parish, Kilbride. Somewhere in the middle of all that he managed to fit in a stint as National Chairman of the Muintir na Tire organisation!”

Ronan said that in the months before Fr. Ray passed in 2020, he had conducted an interview with him in Fourmilehouse.

“Covid had restricted him somewhat. However, never one to sit idly around, he had just completed a book called ‘Souvenir-Cocooning and remembering in the year of the Coronavirus 2020’. Evident throughout this final production was his deep care and concern for various parishioners who had passed over the years,” Ronan said.

The filmmaker says he is fortunate to have some previous footage of the much-loved priest from when he completed a film called ‘Roscommon Revealed’ in 2011 and praised Fr. Browne’s extensive knowledge of the local area.

As part of his latest production, Ronan has visited a number of locations with close ties to Fr. Browne’s life.

“Recently I spent the day in Sligo with my mother as I filmed at places linked to his youth. His sister Louise was a great help in guiding us to the various locations in question,” he said.

“Earlier in the year there was an outing to Drumboylan with Bernie Kearney who had lined up many of the stalwarts to have known and worked with Fr. Ray during his tenure there. It’s clear from interviewing those individuals that some of Fr. Ray’s projects were successful and some weren’t. Nevertheless, a sense of despair and resignation were certainly not a part of his vocabulary!”

Ronan said that following Fr. Ray’s passing, Deacon Seamus Talbot provided assistance in sorting through a vast archive of pictures, videos, and audio files. He is also grateful to Fr. Browne’s family for allowing him to do so.

“One comment to frequently pop up from talking to those who knew Fr. Browne was that he was ahead of his time. While the many major projects he was involved in over the years showed tremendous vision, he also had the foresight to recognize that recording simple community events for posterity is important,” he said and highlighted the assistance of local people including former Senator Terry Leyden in tracking down old footage.

If you have photographs, video or audio clips featuring the late Rev. Fr. Browne, please contact Ronan Carley on 086-3503732 or email Your help would be greatly appreciated.