Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly RIP

UPDATE: Thomas's remains will be removed to St Kevin's Church, Harrington St, Dublin 8 at 4.00pm tomorrow Saturday, February 23rd. A Solemn High Requiem Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will take place there on Monday next, the 25th of February at 11.00am followed by interment in the College Cemetery at Maynooth.

For those of us who knew and loved him Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly was a man whom we could never imagine with the letters RIP after his name. He had BA, MA, MPhil and the rest but the idea of this larger than life character ever being finally and irrevocably gone was simply ridiculous. Until today, when all that changed. We still don't know what happened exactly but he was found this morning at or near the Royal Canal in Maynooth. It seems that there was some sort of accident which caused him to fall in. Unfortunately falling into a canal is easily done and climbing out again is well-nigh impossible.

Thomas (I could never call him "Tom" still less "Tommy") was a man of immense intelligence and talent. He spoke four languages fluently, had a working knowledge of at least two others, and an acute reading knowledge of three others. (The latter being Ancient Greek, Latin and formal logic, since you asked.) He wrote two books and edited at least three. He founded at least three refereed academic journals and after 17 years of coaxing and cajoling seminarians in Philosophy, crossed the bridge to the National University of Ireland side of the Maynooth Campus; after some years there he finally arrived where we all knew he belonged. In the Chair of Philosophy, as Professor Thomas Kelly.

He wasn't however in any way limited to just academic achievement. He was also an accomplished painter and had exhibited in various places down the years. (It provided the cover art for his tribute to William Desmond of K U Leuven and late of Cork.) He wrote a novel once - which he never published despite my assiduous nagging encouragement. He sang with successively the Schweizer Romanos-Chor (Eastern Church music, in Switzerland no less), the Palestrina Choir and the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir.

Yet he wore all this artistic achievement lightly. He hadn't just a wide-ranging and powerful intellect but what was more important a warm and generous heart. He was well known for his capacity for making and keeping friends; he was loyal and generous to a fault. Yet a really full and complete happiness eluded him until he met his wife, Marian O'Donnell. Whatever the sadness we all feel at his death, it is as nothing to the grief she must feel. So of your charity, please pray for the peace and happy repose of the soul of Thomas Augustine Francis Kelly, and for his wife and his widowed mother that they will be comforted.