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Hermann Geissel's memorial service, Clane, 31 March 2011

The memorial service for Hermann Geissel took place in Clane parish church on Thursday, 31 March 2011. Like the man himself it was a distinctive, interesting, inclusive and electic commemoration. A range of speakers from many parts of Hermann's life and interests contributed their reflections interspered with music that inspired reflection and rememberance but in an upbeat manner full of hope.

The first to speak was Eoghan Corry who recalled being a pupil of Hermann's
when the latter taught Biology in Clane post primary school. Eoghan inspired
some humour when he reminisced how Hermann covered lines of enquiry way
beyond  the prescribed syllabus and in doing so opened his and his
classmate's  minds  to possibilities beyond the confines of the textbook.
Two of Hermann's friends from the Newbridge philosophical group told of
Hermann's deep interest in discussing the greater mysteries of life and how
his mind never accepted the conventional but always wanted to explore the

His contribution to unlocking the layers of Kildare's landscape was honoured
by his great companion in the field, Seamas Cullen, who spoke of his skills
in reading the landscape and in finding connections between truncated
laneways and abandoned green roads so that the route of the Sli Dala could
be recreated from the ford of Ath Cliath (the location of which
Hermann identified with precision) to Clonmacnoise. Community leader and
historian Tony McEvoy spoke of his acquaintance with Hermann over a period
of thirty years and his interest in the civic progress of Clane and its

Hermann wore his German origins on his sleeve and Rudi, a family member,
read a Biblical passage in German. There were other speakers who spoke of
Hermann's many roles in life as a farmer, naturalist, photographer, tour
guide, falconer and publisher, among others as well as his times spent in
Germany, the United States, and various parts of Ireland notably Clonmel and
Co. Kildare.  A series of prayerful intentions were read by members of the
extended family from little tots to older relatives.

His son Adrian spoke about their family, at once unconventional yet
inclusive, and how Hermann was the loving heart of a vibrant family circle.
Adrian described how Hermann's wish to be interred in a way sympathetic to
the environment was honoured on Tuesday evening last when he was taken to
the Woodbrook natural cemetery, high on the slopes of the Blackstairs in
Co. Wexford, on his last journey (or more accurately, as one of the speakers
remarked, his last earthbound journey). Adrian thanked Fr. Paul Dempsey for
his support in organising the memorial service. The service concluded with a
presentation of gifts representing Hermann's life ranging from a falconer's
glove, to a copy of the Eiscir Riada book which he published with Seamus
Cullen, to a GPS which he used on his field explorations.

There was a large attendance including the teaching staffs, current and
retired, from all three Clane schools and the prefects from Scoil Mhuire in
Clane where pupils had benefited from Hermann's stimulating and innovative
approach to education over a period of twenty five years.   

Liam Kenny

A memorial service for Hermann Geissel took place in Clane on 31 March 2011

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