BY GREGOR KYLE
A PARISH community in Scotland has united in mourning after the death of their priest in a tragic fire at the presbytery.
Fr Michael Lynch died in a fire which broke out shortly after 4am at his residence at St Peter in Chains Church in South Crescent Road, Ardrossan, last Friday morning.
The death, which is not being treated as suspicious by the investigating police officers, has rocked the Catholic parish, neighbouring churches and local primary schools. A popular figure, Fr Lynch, 74, had served in Ardrossan since 1980.
Investigations are still ongoing to determine the cause of the blaze, which has caused extensive damage to the house but did not reach the church building.
A spokesperson for Strathclyde Police said: “We are not treating the incident as suspicious.” Aspokesperson for Ardrossan Fire Brigade said: “The cause of fire will not be published until after a full investigation.” Bishop John Cunningham of Galloway expressed his sadness at the news and paid tribute to a priest who has tirelessly served his diocese since his ordination on June 5, 1955.
“The sudden death of Fr Michael Lynch in such tragic circumstances came as a great shock to me personally,” said the newly-appointed bishop.
“Although I have been Bishop of Galloway for just a few weeks, I have known Fr Lynch for 27 years. My heart goes out to his family and friends and to the parishioners of St Peter’s, Ardrossan, whom he has served as parish priest for some 25 years.
“I will of course be remembering the Lynch family and the people of St Peter’s in my prayers.” Fr Lynch spent almost five decades in parishes throughout the diocese.
After his ordination, following studies at St Patrick’s College in Carlow, the Irish Republic, he travelled to Scotland serving in some five parishes and enjoying a year’s involvement with the Catholic Missionary Society in London.
Fr Lynch was also instrumental in building the Church of the Resurrection in Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire, in November 1971.
Fr Lynch’s funeral was scheduled to be held yesterday.