Nicholas Walsh was born on February 17th, 1922, to Thomas and Mary (née Clavin) Walsh of Newtown, Rahan, Co Offaly. He was one of eight children, five boys and three girls. Two of the boys were to join St Patrick's Missionary Society, Nicholas first and his younger brother, Donal, five years later. All three girls entered religious life, two in the Mercy Congregation and one in the Presentation.
Nicky attended Durrow National School from 1927¬1936 and the Christian Brothers in Tullamore from 1936¬1942. While at school he was known for his prowess at hurling and he played at minor level for the county. He joined the Spiritual Year at Kiltegan in 1942, based then in nearby Humewood Castle. After completing his Philosophy and Theology studies in Kiltegan he was ordained in Killamoat Church by Bishop JW Heffernan CSSp on April 17th, 1949 along with his fourteen classmates.
Nicky was appointed to the Prefecture of Ogoja in Nigeria and served in Ikom, Afikpo, Kakwagom, Ishiagu and Ezza parishes between 1949 and 1968. In 1968 he came home from Nigeria because of the Nigerian Civil War and was assigned to the Diocese of Brentwood in England. He remained there until 1975, ministering in the parish of Clacton.
Nicky was very happy in Brentwood but in 1975 he was withdrawn from there and was appointed to the Diocese of Kerry. The Kerry mission to Nakuru, Kenya, was launched that year and priests of Kerry Diocese who volunteered for the missions were to be replaced by Kiltegan priests who, for one reason or another, were not available for mission abroad at that time. Nicky was one of the first to be chosen and he was appointed for a period of three years. Those three years were extended many times and, in all, Nicky spent thirty-three very happy years in Kerry Diocese serving in the parishes of Waterville, Glenflesk and Beaufort.
While Nicky enjoyed his time in Kerry, and took the people to his heart, he never forgot his roots in County Offaly and kept in close contact with family and neighbours. In 1982, he got quiet pleasure in seeing Offaly derail the Kerry football team’s hopes of winning a record five All Ireland titles in a row! Nicky enjoyed a game of golf and for many years he employed the services of his pet dog, Darby, as caddy, to help him pull his specially designed golf cart. When Darby died Nicky decided not to get another dog in order to avoid the pain of possibly losing it.
In early 2008 Nicky suffered a stroke and had to leave his beloved Beaufort and return to Kiltegan where he was to spend his remaining years. Nicky settled into life in Kiltegan very easily and played a full part in community life over the last six years. At first he was able to drive and loved to visit his family and to trawl the shops to look at the latest gadgets on offer. He had time to pursue his keen interest in photography and computing. He continued to publish his personalised calendar and took great pride in presenting a copy each year to the Society Leader. He loved his Kindle and his laptop and liked to watch television. He produces a collection of his homilies and made them available to his fellow priests. A second stroke brought serious impairment in speech and movement and eventually he depended on a wheelchair to get around. Nonetheless he continued to live life to the full insisting on being wheeled to the early mass every morning, having meals with the community and continuing to operate his IT equipment. He had a great zest for life and showed remarkable resilience, overcoming adversity and setbacks with determination and sheer willpower.
Nicky was admitted to Naas Hospital in mid-October. He was mentally alert and able to communicate up to the end. He died peacefully on November 2nd, 2014 and is buried in the Society cemetery at Kiltegan.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan