Dr William Moran, parish priest of Tullamore (1949-1965), is remembered by the people of Tullamore with affection and respect. To many parishioners he was seen as a character and there are few of the older parishioners who have not some humorous story to relate concerning him. Dr Moran came to Tullamore from Trim in October 1949 where he had been parish priest. He was a native of Castletowngeoghegan near Tullamore and was educated at St. Finian’s (Navan) and Maynooth College where he was ordained in 1910. He received a doctorate in divinity in 1913 and after four years as a curate in Mullingar and Collinstown he was appointed professor of dogmatic theology in Maynooth in 1917. In 1932 he became prefect of the Dunboyne establishment and librarian in 1932. From there he moved to Trim and in 1949 to Tullamore.
Although a competent parish administrator who gave his full support to the local schools building programme of the 1950s, Dr Moran was happiest among his books and produced a number of books and pamphlets on religious topics including his well known catechism. He also published a number of historical articles including this booklet on the history of Tullamore in 1962. But if Dr Moran was interested in the past he was also a forward thinking practical man. He seemed to take a special delight in running the annual Corpus Christi procession from the organ gallery of the church with the ‘Tannoy’ system he purchased in 1951. With this system Dr Moran could broadcast a Maynooth choir for the procession together with a taped recording of his own sermon while he walked around the church and listened, presumably, admiringly, to the whole event. With his background in theology and his wide reading, Dr Moran had no shortage of material for his sermons and was a fascinating preacher who held the congregation spellbound for the duration of his homily.
Dr Moran celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination in June 1962 and sung a high mass in the presence of Dr Kyne of Meath and Dr Cronin of the Philippines. The sermon was preached by Dr Philbin of Clonfert. After a short illness Dr Moran died at the age of 79 in October 1965. Although he had been responsible for many improvements at Clonminch cemetery he desired to be buried in the church grounds in a plot chosen by himself. His funeral was attended by thousands of parishioners and about 150 priests, many of them old students of their former professor. His tombstone is now incorporated in the wall of the entrance to the east transept of the new Church of the Assumption, Tullamore (rebuilt in 1986 after the fire of 1983).
Moran’s history of Tullamore was assisted by the notes of Fr John Johnson of Harbour Street who did a lot of work but did not publish it. Moran’s history was the first to be published based on a research process with footnotes and a good spread of sources. A recording of his lecture on Tullamore given at St Mary’s Hall in 1962. This was published as Early history of Tullamore (Athlone, 1962, reprinted by Offaly History, Tullamore, 1989)