Des was born in Dublin on the 8th September, 1941, and entered the Jesuit noviceship at Emo Park, Co. Laois in 1959. After the noviceship he followed the usual course of Jesuit studies. He took a degree in experimental physics in UCD in 1965, after which he studied philosophy in St. Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, U.S.A. When Des completed his studies in philosophy he returned to Ireland and taught Maths and physics in Clongowes Wood College for a year before going to the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh to study astronomy. During his year there he frequented the student chaplaincy regularly and discovered that he drew on his philosophy studies in his conversation with the students at the chaplaincy. In view of this experience the provincial decided that it would be better for Des to study philosophy rather than continue with physics and astronomy. Acting on this decision Des returned to Dublin to study theology and during this time he was ordained a priest.
After ordination Des studied more philosophy in UCC, after which he returned to Dublin, where he worked as a lecturer in philosophy in the Milltown Institute for three decades. During those years he continued his pastoral ministry helping in local parishes. During the long summer break he regularly devoted six weeks to pastoral work in parishes in Ireland, England and the United States. Since retiring from the Milltown Institute Des has continued in pastoral work. He has served in a number of parishes in Ireland. He currently lives in Gonzaga College and is chaplain to the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, Co. Dublin.
One of the great blessings of Des’ life is the fact that his parents were both from farming families in Co Kilkenny. During his school years he spent most of his holidays on his parents’ home farms and developed a great love of nature in all its aspects. A day in the country – or many days – is still one of his great joys, and he knows the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains intimately. He has also walked in the Welsh mountains and has had the good fortune of being able to take walking holidays in the Alps too. Walking in the mountains not only relaxes the mind – it also nourishes the Spirit and nature has been a great source of joy and nourishment for the spirit.