Dr Walsh has confirmed that on his 75th birthday next January, he will send his resignation letter to the pope in compliance with church rules.
“Over recent years, it has been taking three to six months to appoint a replacement. It would be my expectation that a successor would be announced sometime between January and June,” he said.
“I would certainly expect to be retired by this time next year. I simply believe that it is time for me to go and to have a new voice and a man with new energy.
“Obviously, one doesn’t have the same energy in one’s 70s as one has in the late 50s or early 60s.”
Dr Walsh, who has long been regarded as one of Ireland’s most independent-minded pastors, said it had been a “great privilege” to serve as bishop for 15 years.
“It has also been a lot of pressures and a lot of difficulties one has faced. I have seen it as a privilege and a heavy responsibility as well.”
He added: “I believe that it is time for a change and I certainly look forward to it and I am looking to doing things which I didn’t have an opportunity to do in the last 15 years due to pressure of work.”
Dr Walsh said: “In a sense a priest never retires, I will be available at weekends to say Mass. I don’t know what responsibilities I might take on in a parish, but I don’t visualise working full time or seven days a week. I’m looking forward to retirement, it will be a big change.”
He added: “I feel I will enjoy it. I have preserved a lot of interests which I always had but maybe I couldn’t attend to them in recent years.
“I still have very strong interest in sport, in GAA and I play a game of golf as often as I can. I’m very lucky that I have a small number of very close friends in various parts of the country and outside and I will have more time to visit them.
“Most of them are retired so they have time and I have time to see a bit more of each other. I don’t think I will have any difficulty in filling my time.
“I am looking forward to it. There is always the difficulty of coming to the end in any task; there is always a temptation to say ‘I’ll let my successor look after that’.
“One has to avoid that and try to continue to work right up to the end and I would hope that I would manage to do it,” he said.
Asked was there anything left that he would like to achieve in his last number of months, Dr Walsh said: “I’d love to achieve the whole process of clustering of parishes throughout the diocese.”
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