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Irish Smaritan dies

Posted on: February 11, 2000 4:01 PM
Related Categories: Ireland

The founder of the Samaritans in Ireland, Canon Billy Wynne, died recently at the age of 84. He was a canon of St Anne's Church in Dublin's Dawson Street. He was previously Rector of Monkstown, Co Dublin and Delgany, Co Wicklow.

In 1958 Billy Wynne established a telephone counselling service in Ireland for those suffering from depression or wanting to commit suicide. He was encouraged by the founder of the Samaritans in England, the Revd Chad Varah. From the early days of working out of his study in Monkstown Rectory, the Irish branch of the Samaritans now has 250 active volunteers and over 80,000 contacts.

"He had a knack of encouraging people to share their problems with him and of getting to the nub of where people were hurting," Canon Cecil Hyland recalled in his address at Billy Wynne's funeral in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, on Thursday 20th January, with a congregation of about 800 present. "He never condemned, but offered support and encouragement."

Canon Billy Wynne's contribution to the community was recognised through a number of awards, including a People of the Year Award in 1983 and an honorary Doctorate in laws from Dublin University. In 1988, the 1,000th anniversary of the founding of Dublin, he was announced as the city's Millennium Man.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.

Item from: Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough