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'Father Armani' Irish priest accused of embezzlement laid to rest as mobsters mourn at his funeral

Father Joe Walsh was known for his expensive tastes


An Irish priest accused of embezzlement has been laid to rest in Australia.

The 70-year-old passed away after a three year battle with cancer.

The funeral of 'Father Armani', nicknamed so for his taste in expensive goods, was attended by high ranking mobsters.

His funeral was attended by over 1,000 including the boss of a notorious biker gang, Troy Mercanti, who was said to be visibly upset during the mass, and gangland figure John Kizon.

Father Joe Walsh from Co. Galway became well known in Australia when he was accused of stealing €315,000 from his church in Perth, but the charges were later dropped.

He was initially charged with six counts of theft, but a further 30 charges were later added.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges which were eventually dismissed.

Father Walsh had been accused of using the parish money on personal expenses.

A Police investigation revealed how he splashed €116,000 on travel between 2014 and 2017.

His luxury trips included boat cruises around Monte Carlo, and visits to Mauritius, Kenya and Bali.

He also spent a holiday in Ireland, staying at the luxurious Mount Falcon Estate in Co Mayo.

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The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Australia dropped the charges against him because canon law allowed a priest to spend parish money as he saw fit.

However, the parish initiated a civil lawsuit, which was settled in June 2021.

Speaking at his funeral, his family said there was so much more to him than the criminal accusations.

His nephew Eoin spoke of how the priest’s illness got worse after he was charged with 36 counts of theft, following a police investigation in 2018 and 2019.

During his eulogy it was claimed that when he was a child, Father Walsh received a personalised letter from then US president John F Kennedy and met Mother Theresa in the 1970s.

Eoin then discussed his uncle’s time as a parish priest at St Joseph’s in Subiaco and his legacy.

“The institution that he served turned on him,” he said.

“He fought a great battle to prove his innocence. But [that battle] will not be how you will be remembered.”

Before he died, Father Walsh gave Father Peter Black, the priest celebrating his funeral mass “strict instructions” to keep the service brief.

“Don’t focus on all this rubbish that has recently overtaken my life. Focus on the gospel and what really matters,” he said.

The father of Irish girl Ciara Glennon, who was murdered by serial killer Bradley Edwards in 1997 also gave a short eulogy, in which he thanked Father Walsh for his "compassion and friendship over the past 25 years".

Bradley Edwards, dubbed the Claremont Killer, was not identified as the killer until 2016.

On September 24th 2020 he was found guilty of the murder of Ciara Glennon and Jane Rimmer.

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