Father Gilligan is a parish priest living and working deep in the Irish countryside. He is a dedicated man, assiduously ministering to his parish, despite the fact that his parishioners keep dying off. Father Gilligan himself is a very old man, and the passing away of half his "flock" is a grim reminder of his own mortality. His duties wear him down, the combination of his own advancing years and the deaths of his parishioners sapping what little energy he has left. And as he is the only available priest in the vicinity, this merely adds to an already burdensome load.
Despite his selflessness and sense of duty, Father Gilligan is only human. And when the pressure gets too much for him one day, he breaks down and cries out in distress:
"I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,
For people die and die";
And after cried he, "God forgive!
My body spake, not I!'"
The priest's body has given up the ghost. But his spirit is still strong and immediately begs for forgiveness. Despite everything, his faith is unbroken; his commitment to the vocation of a priest remains. The next day, when he goes to visit another sick man, Father Gilligan immediately shows concern for his welfare. For all his weariness, this is a priest who still cares. Unfortunately, the old man has passed away in the night. But he died with a smile on his face. This tells the priest that the Lord answered his prayers and sent down an angel to minister to the old man in his dying hours. Father Gilligan is still committed to his work, but being an old man himself, with his own needs, it's nice to be relieved of the burden once in a while.