Fr Thomas Barrett
Fr Tommy Barrett was born on the 9th of June 1938 to Michael Barrett and his wife Christine (née Byrne) of “Marchmont”, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare. He was the youngest of a family of three boys. He received his primary education in Lisdoonvarna National School and in Dunkerrin National School (Co Offaly). For his secondary education he attended St Flannan’s College, Ennis. Tommy was a great hurler and footballer in his youth. He had the distinction of playing both hurling and football at minor grade for his native County Clare.
He came to Kiltegan in September 1956 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1957. He went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, in September 1957 and attended University College Cork. He graduated with a BA degree in June 1960. He returned to Kiltegan for his theological studies and was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on the 29th of March 1964 (Easter Sunday). The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC (Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China).
After ordination Tommy was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja (Nigeria). He taught in St Brendan’s Secondary School, Iyamoyong, which had just opened. On the staff with him was the late Fr Neil Campion. He returned to Ireland on leave in 1967 and was asked to take a correspondence course in Electrical Engineering. Tommy’s gifts in that area had already been recognised. As he was unable to return to Nigeria because of the Civil War he was appointed to the Diocese of Kitui (Kenya). He taught in Ikutha Secondary School from 1968 to 1973 and helped to build up the school which had been founded by fellow Clare man, Fr Michael Rodgers. From Ikutha he was appointed Manager of Kitui Polytechnic, a post he held until 1988. He was Manager of the Diocesan Workshop from 1988 to 1999. He was gifted with his hands and was a wonderful mechanic. He spent many years helping to train young mechanics in Kitui. During that time he serviced the cars and pick-ups on the Kitui Diocesan Fleet.
After thirty five years in Africa Tommy was appointed to the Diocese of St George’s in Grenada, West Indies. He began in Sauteurs and after a few months he was appointed to the island of Carriacou which would be his home for many years. Around 2009 he went to live at the Society House in True Blue and for a while he was House Leader. Tommy was always keen to share his gifts and talents with others. For example while in True Blue he set up a project to teach young people how to be creative with stained glass, making souvenirs etc. which could be sold to tourists visiting Grenada. Many young people both enjoyed and benefited from this venture.
Tommy was a very jolly, hospitable, obliging and generous man who enjoyed other people’s company. He took special pleasure in being able to do a good turn for someone. When he put his mind to some project he gave it his all. He put a lot of effort into preparing the Sunday homilies. He wrote them out in full. They were usually ready on Friday evening. Tommy lived through the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. His house in Carriacou was completely destroyed yet he never complained. He got on with life. He was delighted when Bishop Vincent Darius OP invited him to help with the restoration of St George’s Cathedral which was razed to the ground during Hurricane Ivan. Tommy designed and fitted the beautiful stained glass windows which now adorn the Cathedral. He was justly very proud of his handiwork.
Ill-health forced Tommy to leave Grenada in December 2018. He came to Kiltegan and settled into life there very well even though his general health was poor and his mobility was limited. He got a great boost when a small indoor scooter became available to him. He enjoyed driving through the long corridors showing off his vehicle which he learnt to manoeuvre with great dexterity. He was admitted to Naas General Hospital towards the middle of February. Sadly his condition did not improve. He came to the Care Unit in Kiltegan on the 4th of March. Tommy died peacefully on the morning of Friday, the 6th of March, 2020.
Fr Jim Barry
Timothy James (Jim) Barry was born on the 9th of February 1934 to Timothy Barry and his wife Hannah (née Roche) of Shandon Street, Cork. The family later moved to Victoria Road, Cork. Jim received his primary education firstly at Glanworth National School, Co Cork and later at The Model School, Cork and St Nessan’s National School, Cork. For his secondary education he attended Sullivan’s Quay CBS, Cork. He sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1952 and came to Kiltegan in September of that year. He completed the Spiritual Year in June 1953. He studied philosophy in Kiltegan from 1953 to 1955. He continued in Kiltegan for his theological studies. He was ordained with twenty three classmates on the 23rd of May 1959 in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Thomas McGettrick SPS, the Bishop of Ogoja. It was the biggest class ever ordained for the Society.
After ordination Jim was appointed to the then Prefecture of Kitui where he was to minister for the next twenty eight years. He served first at Kimangao with Harry Parkinson (1957 Class). He then worked with the late Matt Campbell (1951 Class) in Muthale. After Muthale he was appointed to Mutomo and from there he went to Boma parish in Kitui. He served as Diocesan Secretary from 1968 to 1981. He also acted as Education Secretary, Procurator and Medical Secretary. He supervised the building of St Joseph’s Seminary in Mwingi and was involved in the building of Mutomo Hospital. During all this time Jim was a trusted adviser to Bishop Dunne. His last appointment in Kitui was to Mutune.
In 1987 Jim was appointed to promotion work in the USA. He worked first in West Granville Avenue, Chicago and later in Cliffside Park in New Jersey. He served as Society Superior in the USA from 1996 to 2002. He was very involved in promotion work and in organising many fundraisers like dances and raffles. After fifteen years in the USA Jim returned to Ireland and was appointed the House Leader in the Society’s house in Cork. He remained in this position until early 2015. After the sudden death of Charlie Ryan (1964 Class) he took on this post again and held it until early January 2018. During all his years in Cork Jim served as chaplain to the St Vincent de Paul Community in Deerpark.
Jim was a man of boundless energy and had great enthusiasm for life and for mission. He put his heart and soul into all his undertakings. He was an excellent administrator and was very competent in many fields. He was a very sociable man who loved company and enjoyed a good sing-song and a dance. During his time in the USA he built up an excellent relationship with our benefactors there and stayed in touch with many of them for the rest of his life. He had a very positive attitude to everything and was totally dedicated to the mission of the Society. He died peacefully on Thursday 22nd of March. His funeral took place in St Patrick's, Kiltegan.
Fr Terence Beagon
Terence Beagon was born in St. Paul’s Parish, Belfast on the 29th of November, 1926 the third-born of a family of seven. His parents were Felix Beagon who ran a licenced premises on the Springfield Road and his wife Mary Allen. After his primary education in St. Paul’s National School he attended St. Malachy’s College from 1940 to 1944. He came to Kiltegan in 1944 to do his Spiritual Year in Humewood. Philosophy and theology studies followed in Kiltegan leading up to his ordination which took place on the 25th of March, 1951 in Killamoat.
Terry was appointed to Ogoja. He ministered in the parishes of Wanakom, twice in Bansara, Ikom, Agbokim, Itigidi and twice in Ugep. During the Nigerian Civil War he was very active in assisting refugees and in offering spiritual and moral support to his people and to fellow-missionaries.
Ill health forced him to return to Ireland in 1994. He took up an appointment in St. Oliver Plunkett Parish in Belfast and remained there even after his retirement from active ministry in 2006. He died in the Royal Victoria Hospital on the 23rd of May, 2007. He is buried in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast.
Fr James Patrick (JP) Bohan
Fr James Patrick (JP) Bohan (1926-2020)
James Patrick (JP) Bohan was born on the 17th of August 1926 to Michael Bohan and his wife Mary (née McGlynn) of Cloonfad, Rooskey, Co Roscommon. He was the second eldest of a family of nine two of whom joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society. He attended Cloonfour National School from 1930 to 1940 and went on to Summerhill College, Sligo, for his secondary education. He sat the Leaving Certificate in 1944. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September of the same year, and did the Spiritual Year in Humewood Castle beside Kiltegan Village. He then studied philosophy for two years at St Patrick’s College, Kiltegan, before going to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork in September 1947. JP was a member of the first class of Society students to study at University College Cork. He obtained a first class honours B A degree from UCC in 1949 and returned to Kiltegan for a four year course in theology. JP was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, on Easter Sunday (5th of April) 1953. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev John W Heffernan CSSp, Vicar Apostolic Emeritus of Zanzibar, Kenya. (In 1960, JP’s brother Bernard (Benny) was ordained in the same St Mary’s Church, Killamoat, as a member of St Patrick’s Missionary Society.)
After ordination JP was appointed to Kenya where he would spend the next 60 years of his life. Commitment to education was a life-long focus of his priestly ministry. He taught in many schools throughout his six decades as a missionary in Kenya. He began his teaching career in St Joseph’s Teacher Training College in Kitale. This was followed by a short period in Mother of the Apostles Junior Seminary which at that time was based at Matunda. He started a Harambee Secondary School on the outskirts of Kitale in 1965 and moved to Nakuru in 1966. He taught in Nakuru Day Secondary School and Loreto School between 1966 and 1983. He then had a change of career serving at the Catholic Secretariat in Nairobi for six years, during which he lived at the Regional House in Nairobi. JP returned to his beloved Nakuru in 1990 and was based at Mlimani. He taught once again in various schools in the Nakuru area. In 2000 he moved to the Society House in Kiamunyi and continued his ministry in schools. He spent 2007/2008 in Ireland on medical leave; during that time he produced a book entitled Fullness of Life which contained short biographies of all Society members who had died between 1942 and 2008. Having completed 60 years of missionary service in Kenya, JP returned to Kiltegan during the summer of 2013. This was a very hard decision for him to make as he had a profound love for the peoples of Kenya and for their culture. The beauty and majesty of the Kenyan countryside never ceased to evoke a sense of awe and wonder in him and he felt truly privileged that this was the place he called home for all those years.
JP was a gifted teacher who dedicated himself totally to his students. He got deep personal satisfaction from his decades in the classroom. It was as if there was chalk on his hands the day he was born. He had a deep influence on the many young teachers whom he taught and was a source of inspiration for them in their own careers. JP had a prodigious memory which he retained right up to the end of his life. He had no peers when it came to facts and figures. He could recite poems and extracts from Shakespeare at will. He was a very loyal friend who had a deep respect for the opinion of others. He remained very close to his family throughout his life. Despite being far away in Kenya he was always in close contact with them. JP had a great love of sport especially GAA and rugby; he could name every member of the victorious Roscommon team of 1943. Daily exercise was very important to him. He jogged every day until he was well into his 70s. He also enjoyed swimming.
JP spent seven happy years around Kiltegan in retirement. He took a full part in community life in the early years. When his health began to fail he moved to the Care Unit. He continued to have a great interest in everything that was happening in the community. He loved to join the 8 am Mass in St Patrick’s Chapel each morning. The latter years gave him even more opportunities for interaction with his family, something he appreciated very much. On Sunday the 6th of December he got weak during Mass and asked to return to his room. His condition deteriorated over the following days. He died peacefully at 9.15pm on Sunday, the 20th of December, 2020.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
Fr Brendan Bolger
Brendan was born on the 19th of October, 1924 to Thomas and Ann Bolger of Tullamore, Co. Offaly. He received his early education at the local Convent National School and C.B.S. Tullamore and entered St. Finian’s College, Mullingar in 1938.Entering Kiltegan in September 1944, he was ordained on Easter Sunday 1951.
He proceeded to Calabar Diocese later that year and was appointed to the staff of Urua Inyang Teacher’s College. There he exercised a great apostolate to the youth, which stemmed from his own proficiency in games.He fell ill on the 29th of March, 1955 and was admitted to Anua Hospital where polio was diagnosed. Later he was transferred to Enugu for specialist treatment. He died there on the 3rd of April. 1955, shortly before he was due for his first leave. He is buried in Anua, Nigeria.
Fr Noel Bouchier
Noel was born on the 31st of December, 1927. After his primary education at Arva N.S. from 1932 to 1940, he spent two years in Moyne Latin School, Co. Longford, after which he studied at St. Patrick’s College, Cavan from 1941 to 1946, the year he entered Kiltegan. Ill health dogged his student days and his ordination was deferred for four years. He was finally ordained in 1959.
Appointed to Kenya, he went to Kitui, then a Prefecture which was to become a Diocese in 1964. For the record, Noel ministered in Muthale Mission from 1959 to 1963, in which year he was transferred to St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mwingi. He served here for six years, four of them as Headmaster.From 1969 to 1971, he transferred to Machakos Diocese in exchange for the future Bishop Urbanus Kioko. Returning to Kitui in 1971, Noel was located in Migwani mission, where he remained until 1980, when he was transferred to Mutune parish where he was to remain until his death. In that period, he was Vicar General of the Diocese from 1971 to 1983, an appointment he vacated for the future Bishop Boniface Lele.
Early in 1990, Noel became seriously ill with stomach problems, culminating in his unexpected death, following an operation, on the 21st of February, 1990. He is buried in Mutune, Kenya.
Fr John (Jackie) Boylan
In his younger days a talented sportsman, who represented County Cavan in the 1945 All Ireland Football Final, Father John Boylan, who died recently, was for fifty-seven years a pioneering, dedicated and much appreciated missionary in Nigeria.Born in Drumgore, Co Longford, in 1924, John was educated in Drumbrade and Loughduff National Schools and St Mel’s College, Longford. He came to Kiltegan in 1942 and was ordained in 1949. He was appointed to the Prefecture of Ogoja; an extensive territory in eastern Nigeria where, at that time, missionary activity was still very much in its early stages. Blessed with a strong faith and committed to the well-being of those among whom he ministered, he became a greatly trusted and respected pastor, friend and mentor to two large clans; initially, the people of Ezza and, later, the people of Ezzi.John played an active and significant missionary role in the transformation of the prefecture. The Good News was proclaimed and celebrated, Christian communities emerged and were nurtured, medical centres and schools were built, local leadership was encouraged…
The prefecture became a diocese; the diocese became two dioceses, Ogoja and Abakaliki. When John celebrated his Golden Jubilee in 1999, the two dioceses were self-sufficient but, responding to the invitation of his good friend, the bishop of Abakaliki, Michael Okoro, he remained for a further seven years among the people he had served so faithfully and so well.
In 2006, he returned to Ireland and retired in his home parish of Mullahoran and Loughduff where, many years before, he had honed his considerable football skills. Later, in Kiltegan, his health deteriorating, he renewed old acquaintances and, typically, made new friends. He died on the second of January 2009.
Fr Martin Boyle
Martin was born at Mount Scott, Donogan, Ennis, Co. Clare on the 15th of February, 1942. Following his primary education at Annagh N.S. from 1947 to 1956, he received his secondary education at the C.B.S. Ennistymon from 1956 to 1960. Following a two-year stint working in England, he joined Kiltegan in 1962.
After his ordination in 1969, he went to Kenya and was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret, where he would minister for the 25 years of his missionary life. This was spent among the Kalenjin people in the parishes of Chepterit, Mokwo and Tach Asis. He mastered a difficult language and became so much identified with the people that he was known to them as Chebochuk – ‘belonging to us’ – a great privilege. It was in the service of these people that he died tragically on the 3rd of November, 1994, shot by armed robbers outside Nairobi. Many believe that his death was politically motivated. He is buried at Tach Asis, Kenya.
Fr Harry Bradley
Harry was born in Derry on the 8th of November, 1912. He received his early education from 1916 to 1926 at St. Eunan’s Boys School. From there, he had his secondary studies from 1926 to 1933 at St. Columb’s College, Derry. This was followed by his philosophy course from 1933 to 1935 at Mount Melleray. After a very short stint with the Salesians at Cowley, Oxford, he entered Kiltegan in that year, 1935. Ordained in December, 1939 he went to Nigeria in 1940 and was appointed to Ogoja. There he ministered in Afikpo Mission, St. Joseph’s Teachers College, Igbeagu, TTC, Afikpo and later in St. Teresa’s parish, Abakaliki
Ill health forced him to return to Ireland in 1967 and he ministered in the parish of Ballymartin in the Diocese of Down and Connor. He died there on the 16th of November, 1979.
Fr Gerry Brady
Gerry was born on the 26th of October, 1931 at 22 Arran Road, Drumcondra. He received part of his primary education at St. Peter’s N.S. Phibsboro from 1939 to 1942 and then a year in O’Connell Schools. He studied at the Jesuit College, Belvedere as a day pupil from 1943 to 1951, when he entered Kiltegan.
Following his ordination in 1959, Gerry went to Nigeria and was in charge of the Elementary Teacher Training College in Ikot Nseyen and also served as pastor to the attached small parish – Ikot Nseyen was then under the Central Mission of Ifuho. Gerry remained in this station until the outbreak of the civil war in 1967. After a short period in Ireland, Gerry went to London for further studies and also ministered in the Archdiocese of Westminster.Towards the end of 1969, Gerry was appointed to the post of Director of Religious Studies in Canon Palmer Secondary School, Ilford, Essex in the Diocese of Brentwood.
In 1991, he resigned as Head of the Religious Education Department, but remained in the school on a part-time basis as chaplain and counsellor. He also acted in this capacity at the Ilford Ursuline School. Gerry finally retired in July 1994 and died of heart failure on the 5th of December of that year. He is buried in Shanganagh Cemetery, Dublin.
Fr John (Jack) Brady
Fr John Brady died peacefully in Kiltegan on the morning of the 14th of September, 2010 attended by his sister, Sr Mel MMM. He was 88 years old and had been resident in Kiltegan since he retired in 1993. He was a distinguished figure, slim, ramrod straight and over six feet tall. He was one of the few Society priests who never ministered south of the Equator. This was due to a mysterious health problem indicated by jaundice. He wrote in his memoirs that after a week of tests in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, ‘a young doctor sat me down at my discharge and said the news was not good. On the basis of the test results I could not anticipate living a long life. But, if I could manage to live in hygienic conditions with good food etc., I might manage to justify my ordination’. At the time of that rather inaccurate prediction, John was studying at University College Cork and living in the Society’s student hostel in Douglas.
He had come to Kiltegan in 1940, after attending St Mel’s College, Longford. His family home was in Mullinroe near Dring, Co Longford. After the normal study and preparation, John was ordained in Kiltegan on the 9th of March, 1947 by Bishop Charles Heerey CSSp, Vicar Apostolic of Onitsha-Owerri, Nigeria. He was sent to Cork after ordination to “mind the house” which had been purchased a short time previously. When the first group of students arrived and enrolled in UCC, John joined them in college and graduated with a BSc. degree in 1950. He was then given temporary chaplaincy work in the Curragh Army Camp and stayed there for a year. He learned to play golf there but gave it up when another priest criticised his style of play. He was recalled to Kiltegan to teach Sacred Scripture in the seminary in a temporary capacity. After two years struggling to teach a subject that he was not qualified to teach, he was appointed to promotion work in the USA. At first, he lived in the Society house in Camden and remained there until the Society purchased another house in Cliffside Park, adjacent to New York City. John was involved in the purchase of the house and in its renovation. He took part in all aspects of promotion work, preaching in parishes at weekends, organising bingo, attending benefit dances, keeping in touch with promoters and attending funerals. John’s greatest contribution, however, was to set up an office system to coordinate the fundraising activities. He also established strong and very valuable links with the directors of the Propagation of the Faith in every diocese in New England and the mid-Atlantic States. He served as Director of the Propagation of the Faith in Trenton Diocese for a short period around 1970.In 1979, John was appointed Procurator General of the Society in Rome. His chief duty was to represent the Society in dealings with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. He was also responsible for the two adjoining apartments which served as a base for the Society in Rome. It was a busy place at the time with a number of student-priests residing there and others calling in on their way to or from the missions. He used his considerable talents at DIY to keep the apartment in good order. He held that post until 1993 when at the age of 71 he decided to retire to Kiltegan.
His retirement lasted 17 years. For most of that time he was active and able to drive. He visited his family on occasion and took an annual holiday, usually in Bettystown, Co Meath with Sr Mel. His last few years were difficult as he grew increasingly senile. Through it all, John continued to display his courteous and gentle nature. His funeral in Kiltegan was a joyful celebration of John’s long and fruitful life. On the evening of the removal, his musically gifted family played, sang and danced to celebrate the life of their much loved uncle. They made an exceptional contribution to the funeral Mass, giving Fr John the memorable send-off that he so richly deserved.
Fr Vincent Brady
Vincent Brady was born in New York on the 12th of June, 1916. Because of an outbreak of polio in that city his parents brought their two children home to Granard, Co. Longford. After his primary education locally, Vin attended St. Mel’s College, Longford from 1929 to 1934. In that year he went to All Hallows College and studied Philosophy until 1936 and then entered Kiltegan for his Spiritual Year. He was ordained in December, 1940 but illness prevented his departure for Nigeria until 1943.
He was assigned to Calabar where his ministry was an educational one and he served in St. Mary’s T.T.C., Ediene, Holy Family College, Abak and St. Patrick’s College, Calabar. In 1947 he returned to Ireland on home leave and for the next two years, until 1949, he studied for a B.A. in U.C.C. graduating that year and was among the first group of students to do so. Vin returned to Calabar in 1950 and in the ensuing years was Vicar General to Bishop Moynagh until the civil war in Nigeria intervened and he left the country in 1967. He worked in Liverpool during 1968 and then was appointed to St. Patrick’s, Buchlyvie, Scotland in 1969. He was Headmaster of that institution from 1981 to 1991, when ill-health, in the form of cancer, threatened. However, he continued in his ministry of teaching until he retired to Kiltegan in 1997. Early in the year 2000, he was admitted to St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, where he died on St. Patrick’s Day that year.
Fr Eugene Bree
Eugene Christopher Bree was born on the 4th of December, 1933 to John and Mary Ellen (née Watters) Bree of Rathonoragh, Cummeen, Co Sligo. He attended Knocknarea National School from 1939 to 1943 and St Mary’s National School from 1943 to 1948. He went to Summerhill College, the diocesan secondary school, as a day pupil from 1948 to 1951 and as a boarder for the final two years, 1951 to 1953. Eugene came to Kiltegan in September 1953 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1954. He pursued a BA degree at UCC from 1954 to 1957 and then he returned to Kiltegan for his theological studies. Along with eleven classmates he was ordained in Killamoat on Easter Sunday, 1961 (the 2nd of April) by Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC.
After his ordination Eugene was appointed to the Diocese of Calabar where he taught at Afaha Obong Junior Seminary. In 1969 he was sent to the Diocese of Ikot Ekpene and worked in Urua Inyang Parish until 1973. Eugene was among a number of Society priests who went to work in the Diocese of Port Harcourt when Msgr Edmond Fitzgibbon SPS became the Apostolic Administrator there in 1974. He ministered for many years in Imiringi Parish in present-day Bayelsa State. In 1992 that section of Port Harcourt Diocese became part of the newly created Vicariate of Bomadi. Eugene moved to Burutu where he laboured for many years until he went to work in St Matthew’s Parish, Amukoko, Lagos in 2001. In 2009 Eugene returned to Ireland due to declining health and lived out the remainder of his life at Kiltegan.
Eugene was an outstanding missionary and a man of deep spirituality. He worked for many years in difficult and remote missions where the only transport was by canoe. Long hikes into the bush were part of his everyday life. Simplicity of lifestyle, a love and respect for the poor, a deep commitment to social justice and the promotion of lay leadership were the hallmarks of his missionary life. Often his only form of recreation was listening to the BBC World Service.
Eugene settled into life in Kiltegan very easily and the routine of community living suited him. He was a very keen walker and a day would not be complete without a trek to Kilcarney bridge on his beloved Bog Road. In October 2013 he moved to the Care Unit where he died peacefully on Low Sunday, the 12th of April, 2015.
Fr Kevin Brehony
Kevin was born in Keash, Co. Sligo on the 30th of May, 1934. He received his early education at the local N.S. from 1940 to 1947 and at Ballymote N.S. from 1947 to 1949. In the latter year he commenced his secondary studies which he finished in 1953. In that year he entered Kiltegan and was ordained at Easter, 1960.
Later In the same year, he went to Kenya, where he would minister throughout his missionary career. On his arrival there, in October, he did the customary ki-Swahili course and was appointed to Molo mission. His stay there coincided with a new development for the Church in Kenya. This was the opening up for evangelisation of Turkana, a previously closed area.Thus in December 1962 Kevin moved there and, with a few more of our priests, he was instrumental in establishing the Church there. It was envisaged that, due to adverse climate conditions, our priests would alternate with six months in Turkana and six months in a down country mission. Hence Kevin spent the latter part of 1963 in Naivasha mission. However, after leave in Ireland, Kevin returned to Turkana and the task of laying down the structures of a new mission area began. At this juncture, our missionaries were primarily involved in famine relief projects. Soon elementary self help projects were established which were suitable to the people and the missionary situation. One large project was an extensive fishing village at Loarenyak. Kevin’s ministry continued despite the onset of a severe illness in January 1982. He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. However, he continued his apostolate for two years in Knock and died at O’Dwyer Cheshire Home, Bohola on the 19th of January, 1985. He is buried in Kiltegan.
Fr Michael Brennan
Fr Michael Brennan attended the first two days of our annual retreat in Kiltegan, sitting in his wheelchair, composed and happy as usual. On the third day, he stayed in bed, slowly slipped into unconsciousness and died the following day, Thursday, June 17th at 12.45 pm. It was a fittingly peaceful death for a gracious and witty 86 year old missionary whose life had been blessed with intelligence, humour, faith and prayer. Michael's final three years had been spent in St Patrick's, Kiltegan. Here, he had an opportunity to reflect on fifty-five years of hands-on missionary work in Kenya. He was the last survivor of the pioneering group of five who set sail for Kenya aboard the SS Durban Castle on December 6th, 1951 and arrived in the port of Mombasa twenty-three days later. Michael went directly to Nerkwo to join Mill Hill missionary, Fr Lester Weech who was to hand over the mission to him soon afterwards. Unusually, this was not Michael's first appointment. He had been appointed to Nigeria after his ordination in 1950 but the Bishop there asked that he be sent to Trinidad to do a course on Tropical Agriculture before travelling out. Gaining admission to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad was not straightforward and Michael was sent to University College Cork to do an Arts degree while he was waiting. Meanwhile, the new mission to Kenya was launched and, in his second year of college, he was withdrawn and sent to Kenya.
Records show that Michael had twenty-three different appointments in the course of his missionary life, many of them for very short periods. He was the kind of man who could be sent anywhere at short notice and could be trusted to do a good job however difficult the situation. Within a year of his arrival, he was sent to open Kituro mission in an area that had been evangelised by a Protestant missionary society openly hostile to Catholics. Some years later, he was one of the first priests to live and work in the Turkana desert, a closed area from which outsiders including missionaries were hitherto excluded. There, he worked in famine relief and founded the missions of Lorugumu and Kakuma. In later life, he enjoyed a few fairly long appointments in Kaiboi and Nandi Hills. Michael Brennan was a man who did not spare himself in the work of spreading the Gospel. In the early days, he would trek for up to two weeks, visiting outstations, sleeping in the houses of teachers, sustained by potatoes, the only food he carried with him, and whatever else he was offered by the local people. He was also a man of prayer who had a great love of the Virgin Mary and worked throughout his life to spread devotion to her. The Legion of Mary he regarded as an indispensable agent of evangelisation. He promoted it everywhere he went and was for a period a full-time chaplain to the Legion in Eldoret Diocese. Prayer was an intrinsic part of his life and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament was something he relished and recommended to others. While patently prayerful, he was nonetheless full of fun and maintained a mischievous humour to the end. He was a devotee of Kilkenny hurling; he enjoyed a game of bridge and was prepared to try anything lawful at least once.Michael was renowned for a special service which he offered to people in remote areas of Kenya whereby he sold bibles, rosaries, medals and other devotional objects. He believed strongly in the power of images and symbols in nourishing faith. He sourced his goods in Rome, Dublin and elsewhere and sold them at very keen prices from the boot of his car.
Fr Derry Buckley
Jeremiah Francis (Derry) Buckley was born on the 1st of June 1941 to Cornelius Buckley and his wife Mary (née Coleman) of Great William O’Brien Street, Blackpool, Cork. He received his primary education firstly at St Vincent’s Convent Primary School and later at Our Lady’s Mount (The North Monastery CBS Primary School). He continued at the North Monastery CBS for his secondary education. He sat the Leaving Certificate in June 1959 and came to Kiltegan in September. He completed the Spiritual Year in June 1960. He proceeded to St Patrick’s, Douglas, Cork from where he attended UCC. He graduated with an honours B.Sc degree in 1964. He returned to Kiltegan for his theological studies and was ordained with twenty one classmates on the 14th of April 1968 (Easter Sunday) in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Lennon, the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. It was the second biggest class ever ordained for the Society.
After ordination Derry was appointed to the newly created Diocese of Nakuru, Kenya. He and four classmates went to work there. Except for a short period in the early 1990s when Derry was on promotion work in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, Nakuru/Kericho was to be his home for almost fifty years. Derry’s first appointment was as a teacher in Michinda Secondary School, Elburgon, after which he worked as Parish Priest in the parishes of Njoro, Molo, Elburgon, Kericho and Kituro. Derry also worked as Procurator of the Diocese of Nakuru from 1982 to 1990. In 2006 he moved to St Mary’s Pastoral Centre, Nakuru. It would be his home for the rest of his time in Kenya. He was involved in helping schools, parishes and diocesan institutions in installing computer programmes for financial management. Derry helped the Diocese of Nakuru to establish sound financial management systems and he was gifted in assisting the diocesan institutions in adopting these programmes. He was meticulous in all these undertakings.
Derry was a quiet and reserved man who went about his business with the minimum of fuss. He was totally dedicated to the people he served and was very much respected and admired by them. He lived a very simple and uncluttered life. He was a very able administrator and with his background in science he was aware of the potential of computers long before most of his peers. Even though his first preference was for pastoral work he spent a considerable amount of his missionary life in administration because of the needs of the Diocese at that time. He also had a passionate commitment to justice issues. He came from a very sporting family; his late brother Tom played professional football for Aston Villa. He had a keen interest in all sports. Derry died suddenly on Friday, March 23. His funeral took place in St Patrick's, Kiltegan. May he rest in peace.
Fr Fintan Anthony Byrne
Fintan Anthony Byrne was born on the 18th of February 1936 to Patrick Joseph Byrne and his wife Margaret (née Fallon) of the Square, Athlone, Co Westmeath. He was one of a family of four girls, all of whom became members of the Congregation of St Louis, and two boys. His first cousin, Aidan Fallon, is also a member of the Society and works in Brazil. Fintan began his primary education at St Peter’s Convent School and completed it at Dean Kelly Memorial School. He began his secondary education at the Marist Brothers before transferring to Summerhill College, Sligo, from 1949 to 1954. He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1954 and completed the Spiritual Year in June 1955. He went to St Patrick’s College, Douglas, Cork, in September 1955 and attended University College, Cork. He graduated with a BA degree in June 1958. He returned to Kiltegan in September 1958 for a four-year course in theology. He was ordained in St Mary’s Church, Killamoat on Easter Sunday, 22nd April, 1962 with eighteen classmates. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Patrick Cleary SSC, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.
After ordination Fintan was appointed to the Diocese of Eldoret in Kenya. His first appointment was to Mother of the Apostles Seminary which was then located at Matunda. He attended a course in catechetics in 1969 at the Gaba Institute which was based in Kampala, Uganda. Upon completing that course he became the key person in catechetics for the Diocese of Nakuru, which had been split off from Eldoret in 1968. From 1976 to 1982 he was involved in teacher training and was based at the Teachers’ Training College in Kericho. In 1982 Fintan was appointed the Local Superior at Kiltegan, a post he held until 1988. During that time he lived at St Patrick’s College and was also a member of the Formation Staff. He taught Catechetics and Liturgy to the students and helped out in the local parishes.
Fintan always longed to return to the missions. That was where his heart lay. In 1989 he got his chance when the Society decided to open a new mission in Zimbabwe. Fintan was chosen to be a member of the first group to go on mission to Zimbabwe. He was stationed first in the Diocese of Mutare and then he moved to the Archdiocese of Harare where he served in Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Marondera. Ill-health forced him to return to Ireland in 2015. He went to live at Kiltegan where he died very suddenly on the morning of the 4th of January 2019.
Fintan was devoted to his family, to the Society and to the people whom he served in his priestly and missionary vocation. He was noted for the simplicity of his lifestyle. He had a gentle and quiet sense of humour. He was an excellent Master of Ceremonies at Society gatherings. He was always ready for a swim or a game of tennis or a spot of golf and was a sterling companion to his Society brothers. He will be sadly missed, particularly in Zimbabwe, where so many young people benefited from his great generosity and kindness.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.
Fr Jim Byrne
Jim was born in Millstreet, Co. Cork on the 2nd of February, 1915. He commenced his primary education from 1920 to 1923 at the Presentation Convent, Millstreet. He then re-located to Nottingham and pursued his primary education there form 1923 to 1925. The remainder of this stage of his education was at the Patrician Brothers Tullow, from 1925 to 1929. It was there he did his secondary education from 1929 to 1934. In 1934, he entered Kiltegan and was ordained in December, 1941.
Due to war time travel restrictions, it was 1943 when he reached Nigeria.He ministered in Calabar during the years 1943 to 1945. From that year until 1947, he served as Chaplain to the Nigerian armed forces. Having completed this stint, he returned to Calabar where he was to minister until 1961. In that year ill-health forced him to return to Ireland.From 1964 to 1970, he served in the Diocese of Clifton in England and then in Westminster from 1970 to 1979, when he returned to Kiltegan. He remained there until his sudden death on the 10th of June, 1981.