Obituary: Right Rev Monsignor Hugh McInally, popular parish priest in Dundee, school chaplain, JP, fundraiser and world traveller

Mgr Hugh McInally
Mgr Hugh McInally
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One of the most popular priests in the Diocese of Dunkeld, Mgr Hugh McInally, has died. He was 85.

Hugh Francis McInally was the only son of William and Isabella McInally. The couple also had two daughters, Anne and Wyn. Educated by the Sisters of Mercy at Lawside Primary and Lawside Academy, on leaving school Hugh was an Articled Clerk to CI Dunbar, becoming a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland in 1956.

That year also saw him begin his National Service, serving two years in the RAF. Hugh had thoughts of priesthood, but he recalled that his mother suggested he might finish his accountancy studies before embarking on another course.

He duly did, but he pursued his vocation on demob from the RAF and went to Paris to study at St Sulpice. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William Andrew Hart in 1963. He then spent five years as Curate at St Columba’s in the Kirkton area of Dundee, followed by four years as Curate in St Patrick’s in the city.

His first appointment as Parish Priest was to St Fergus in 1972, where he served for nine years. At that time, the new housing scheme of Ardler was springing up, and to accommodate a burgeoning Catholic population, St Fergus was linked to the new parish of St Leonard’s, becoming St Leonard & St Fergus, the biggest parish in the city.

Father Hugh was also a very popular Chaplain to three schools, and a great champion of the youth in the parish. He established youth groups, altar server groups, Brownie and Girl Guide packs and choirs.

As a reward for the dedicated service of his altar boys, he took them one year on a trip to Iona. As they approached the sacred isle, Father Hugh decided it would be an idea if they all took off their shoes and approached the island barefoot, as Columba would have done. He deemed it good for their souls if not their soles!

Father Hugh was an enthusiastic pastor and he never had any trouble getting adult volunteers and leaders to help him in the parish.

Summer Fayres were legendary at St Leonard & St Fergus, with thousands of pounds being raised for good causes locally, nationally and internationally.

He was also co-founder, along with Dundee councillor Charles Farquhar, of the Farquhar-McInally Fund which sent disabled pilgrims to Lourdes every year.

As well as leaving a host of memories and stories, of which parishioners past and present still speak, he left the parish of St Leonard & St Fergus a lasting legacy in the shape of a set of beautiful stained glass windows.

His young Deacon in his last year at St Leonard & St Fergus, 1990, was Kevin Golden, who was due to be ordained to the priesthood later that year. Now a Canon and Administrator of St Andrew’s Cathedral, it is Canon Golden who will celebrate Mgr Hugh’s Requiem Mass in the cathedral.

That year he was appointed parish priest of St Mary’s Forebank and St Patrick’s in Dundee, a post he held until 2007. In 1990, he was also appointed a Monsignor and Vicar General of the Diocese. These churches, too, benefited from his generous refurbishment.

He was Chairman of the Catholic National Mutual Ltd for 10 years, with responsibility for the insurance of all cathedrals, churches and church properties throughout Scotland, England and Wales.He also served the wider community for many years as a Justice of the Peace.

His Bishop for 34 years, Bishop Vincent Logan, recalls that Mgr Hugh gave generously and unfailingly, of his not inconsiderable talents to the Diocese, and the Church nationally, in the many roles, he was asked to fulfil.

Bishop Logan, now Bishop Emeritus of Dunkeld, says, “Hugh was a most generous man, both with his time and his talents, in the service of the people of God.

“A popular figure with his fellow priests, he was a most compassionate and caring shepherd of his flock. I personally owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he did for our Diocese during my time as Bishop.”

Mgr Hugh loved to travel and he visited all five Continents, mostly in the company of his great friends, the Ruddy family. When his mobility deteriorated, he still went on holiday with them, Jim Ruddy pushing him everywhere in a wheelchair.

Knowing of his restricted mobility, many were surprised to hear Mgr Hugh proclaim that he “had done the Camino”, the pilgrimage walk to Santiago de Compostela, only to reveal, to much laughter, especially his own, that it had been in a luxury coach!

After retiring in 2007, he took up residence in his “monastic cell”, a little cottage in the Perthshire hills. He loved living there, enjoying the beauty of the landscape in the changing seasons.

Although retired, this most gifted preacher was still in demand to deliver eulogies at the funerals of friends, a task he undertook with characteristic wit and generosity.

His health deteriorated in recent months, but with the help and support of the Ruddy family, he was able to fulfil his wish to remain in his beloved cottage until the end. It was there, on 30 March 30, that he died peacefully.

Mgr Hugh is survived by his sisters, Anneand Wyn, his nephews Hugh and Ian, and nieces Veronica and Kathleen.

ELAINE HARRISON