Farewell to Very Reverend
Fr. John Kelly (1951 - 2013)
Disbelief, sadness and tears have been the experience of so many in counties
Clare and Offaly and beyond since Wednesday morning, August 28th on learning of the untimely death of a beloved, faithful
and respected priest Fr. John Kelly. Yes it's a test of our faith why God has taken Fr. John from our midst? we are painfully
puzzled why it had to happen. There is an emptiness, a great void within the community, within his family and the Diocese.
We ask God and Our Lady to fill that emptiness with trust and belief and give us the grace to accept that Fr. John is with
you, safe in your love and praying for us. Fr. John Kelly was a proud son of Doonbeg parish, born to Martin and Mary Kelly
(nee Cotter) in the year 1951. Since his ordination to the priesthood in 1975 he had ministered for thirty eight years as
a priest carrying out God's work through administering the sacraments. He was entirely committed to his vocation and got the
entire co-operation from his flock. Fr. John had a very special and quiet way with people, his pleasant and approachable way
gained great admiration. Since his arrival as Parish |Priest of Kilmurry McMahon - Labasheeda thirteen years ago not one person
has ever had an unkind word to say. It has been just praise all the way and I now give a few examples; "a humble priest",
"a gentleman"," bothers no one", "all are equal to him", "he has no favourites", "he
never looked for a penny". Yes he touched so many lives in many ways. Fr. John was a brilliant student; loved reading,
study and admired modern technology he was up to date with e-mailing and texting and he also got updates from this website.
He often thanked me for the photographs and newsletter coverage. I had the privilege of photographing his Dawn Mass celebration
since the initial one back in April 2004, and the cemetery masses through the years. Fr. John was a regular to the Rambling
House Seisiún and often told a short story. It was on St. Martin's Day, November 11th 2009 Fr. John attended the Rambling
House for the traditional goose dinner in the parlour. That day the house was officially blessed by Fr. Kelly. He autographed
the visitors book on a previous visit - June 24th. Fr. John's first visit to Derryguiha was on March 5th 2006 this was to
mark the Diamond Jubilee of my parents Wedding Anniversary, interesting Fr. Kelly's parents were also married on the same
day, March 5th 1946 in Doonbeg parish. The second coincidence is that my dad was also called to his eternal reward on August
28th (2007). Fr. John was a great priest for the parish and Diocese, this was very true as many of the people who travelled
from Offally for his funeral on Friday and again on Saturday recalled his involvement with the community in Birr, likewise
he got involved in many organisations since his arrival in July of 2000 in Kilmurry McMahon. Fr. John carried out many improvement
to the parish of Kilmurry McMahon/Labasheeda over his thirteen years stay; he quietly got work carried out without any fuss
and he got the entire backup from his committees and parish councils. Walking was a great favourite exercise for Fr.
John he was a regular on the road to the Battery or the ‘Parish of Rhine'. Again on Sunday evenings he took a stroll in
the Kilkee area. He took part in the Diocesan Pilgrimage Walks of West Clare and walks in Europe. St. Mary's church celebrated
its Bicentenary in 2003, this was a great occasion for the parish and Fr. Kelly's work behind the scene saw the celebrations
work out smoothly; many hundreds including priests and Bishop Willie Walsh attended. The Rosary at the two Holy Wells and
Grottos was a favourite of Fr. John's. The Dan Furey Weekend was always of special interest to Fr. John as he himself during
national school days at Baltard would have been taught some steps by Dan. It was very fitting that Fr. Kelly officially opened
one of the Dan Furey festivals. Many parents and teachers will have memories of the Holy Communion Day and Confirmation day.
Couples will cherish their Wedding day and subsequent Baptism day ministered by Fr. John. Then there were sad day too when
Fr. Kelly had to attend sudden deaths and tragedies; he will always be remembered for his consoling and appropriate words
etc!. Fr. John was called to his eternal reward on Wednesday August 28th, Feast of St. Augustine. That saint is recorded
in scripture as saying ‘if you bring one soul to God you predestine your own'. What a lovely Feast Day, Fr. John to
be called home to Heaven. Fr. John had suffered in silence during the past few months but his spirit did not bend, he faced
each day with courage and smiled right to the end. He received many graces and strength during his illness. At all times he
was being remembered in daily prayer by his family, parishioners, priests, bishop and friends. There was a great gathering
for the Mass of the sick at St. Kieran's on Tuesday August 20th celebrated by Fr. McGrath. On August 15th Feast of the Assumption,
28 locals offered up the Holy Rosary at the Rambling house to Our Lady for Fr. Kelly's intentions. Fr. James Kenny of Labasheeda
and England offered special prayers at the same venue. Fr. Kelly wasn't to get better and God called him peacefully and quietly
to Heaven on August 28th at U.C.H. Galway. Fr. John you have now been rewarded for your goodness!. Jesus welcomed Fr.
John with the words: ‘Come, and receive the reward prepared for you'. On Thursday evening (August 29th) the remains
of Fr. John Kelly (Parish Priest) arrived home to St. Kieran's Church, Labasheeda to be welcomed by a huge turn out from the
local community, a guard of honour welcomed home Fr. John. Fr. Tom McGrath MHM and Fr. Michael Casey SDB natives of Labasheeda
received the remains. Mrs Veronica Shannon recited rosary and litany while a number of hymns were sung by the choir. On Friday
evening hundreds of people paid their respects to Fr. John over a period of four hours. Colleagues and classmates of Fr. John
travelled from many Diocese as was the case on the following day. The funeral mass was celebrated on Saturday at 1.30pm again
the church was overflowing with a large attendance, the main celebrant was Bishop Kieran O'Reilly, easily there were over
sixty priests present. The magnificent choir, organist and individual musicians added to the funeral mass. The homily by Bishop
O'Reilly touched many hearts of the congregation. The Bishop thanked all who helped with the preparations over the
days. A reflection/tribute, 'Gentle John' by Fr. Tom Hogan (Ennis Cathedral) really summed up Fr. John's life.
Anne Fealy sister to Fr. Kelly paid tribute to her late brother and reflected on his many qualities as a loving brother.
The final tribute was contributed by Gerard Kett (nephew to Fr. John) in his comprehensive tribute we learned of Fr. John's
love for his late parents Martin and Mary, his visits to his sister Nora and Joe, in Farrihy each Sunday for
lunch. Fr. John's visits to his sister Mary Hallahan in Cork were also recalled. Gerard mentioned the many journeys
by bus to Birr accompanied by Brian his brother. In Birr they received a warm welcome from Fr. John who had a busy schedule
of viewing historic sites planned for them. Gerard on a humerous note informed us of Fr. John's golfing and swimming skills.
He also recalled that Fr. John was the rock of the family and he thanked Anne and family in caring for Fr. John during
his stay in Ennis. The Salve Regina was sung by Fr. John's Bishop and fellow priests at the graveside in the church grounds.
Fr. John Kelly is survived by his sisters, brother, nephews, nieces, extended family and many, many cousins including
his uncle Eddie Cotter, aunt Nonie Pilkington and his aunt-in-law Kathleen Cotter. Fr. John studied for the priesthood
at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth and was ordained in his native Doonbeg in 1975. His first appointment was as Dean of Studies
in St. Flannan's College Ennis in 1975 and in July 1977 he was appointed to the Emigrant Mission in England serving in Our
Lady Help of Christians, Luton. On his return to the Diocese of Killaloe in 1982 he was appointed Curate in Birr, Co. Offaly.
He remained in Birr until July 2000 when he was appointed Parish Priest of Kilmurry McMahon, Co. Clare. In addition to his
appointment to Kilmurry McMahon, he also served as Parish Priest of Cooraclare from 2009 to 2012. Fr. John was also Moderator
of the Inis Cathaigh Cluster of Parishes.
Fr. John, you have now entered eternal life in the company of Jesus and Mary.
Paul Markham. 1/9/2013
Bishop William Walsh & V. Rev Fr. John Kelly
at the Bicentenary of St. Mary's Church 2003
Very Reverend Fr. John Kelly with the final
blessing at the Dawn Mass Easter 2004
John by Fr. Tom Hogan (Ennis).
Live simply, love and care deeply and speak kindly
are the attributes and values at the centre of a full and content life.
Gentle John, you knew about living simply, no
excesses of material things, no cluttering of your life with hoarding.
You knew that in the giving was the receiving.
You knew from your own Mam and Dad the importance of family - you knew about love and goodness.
You were all your life
a student - one who was open to learn and grow in knowledge, in self-awareness, in serenity and inner peace.
with your soft smile and reflective words - you have blessed all our lives as a caring son, a loving brother, a thought filled
uncle, a wise and caring Pastor, a valued and good humoured friend, a faithful brother priest.
For the clarity and care
with which we have loved others speaks with vitality of the great gift of life we live for each other.
Gentle John, we
bid you farewell - may all the goodness of your life go now before you for you have been called away to where your heart belongs
- called into the Blessing and the Food of the Angels - Panis Angelicus - your daily bread.
May Mam and Dad - Mary and
Martin, and your baby sister Bríd be there to welcome you.
May you be reunited with your class mates: Gerry Garvey;
Pa Joe Flynn; Dan Daly; Pete Lennon; Micko Brennan and Dick Kelleher.
May you be in the company of Holy Mary of Dromelihy
when she comes to pray for us at the hour of our death. Ave Maria.
Slán abhaile Gentle John, agus go dtí
and uair sin Amen, Amen
Condolence Book for Fr. John
Condolence Books for Fr. John RIP will
be placed in St. Kieran's and in St. Mary's from now until the Months Mind. These books will be given to Fr, John's family
at the Month's Mind Mass. Ar dheis De go raibh a anam.