Late Peter Kelly was a really good friend of the Longford Association in Dublin

Liam Caldwell

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Liam Caldwell

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newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Late Peter Kelly was a really good friend of the Longford Association in Dublin

Late Peter Kelly was a really good friend of the Longford Association in Dublin

The passing of a family member, or a close friend, is sad at any time, but when it happens around the Christmas season there’s an added poignancy.

When Peter Kelly, former councillor and TD, died in early January, it quickly hit home that the Longford-Dublin association had lost a really good friend, as had I personally. Indeed the same may be said for the Longford associations in London and New York and, of course, a huge array of people all over the Midlands and well beyond.

Among many messages received by this organisation was one from Mullinalaghta native, Margaret Brown, now living in Sandycove, who in a phone call said with sincere feeling, “You know, Peter will be missed enormously by all who knew him. He helped everyone who asked for his help and he lived life to the fullest,” she said.

And in an email from a good friend of ours, a Longford man long living in Dublin who wrote “He was extraordinarily generous and helpful to me when got the diagnosis. I shall never forget his kindness, or his encouragement. He was quite a character but with the proverbial heart of gold,” concluded the email.

They are but a microcosm of many positive messages which undoubtedly criss-crossed, not only the county and his former constituency, but also many parts of the country.

Peter was a great supporter of our organisation and when he would arrive at our annual dinner, which he did practically every year, he brought a sense of energy, joy and fun. His buoyant and positive personality suffused the room from the moment he arrived. Invariably, by the end of the night, he would have gone around to all the tables, a practice he continued even when he had left politics!

Without doubt, the London and New York association committees would report similarly. I witnessed Peter in action at the London dinner on many occasions, but I have a wonderful memory of the event two years ago.

Although he had come through surgery and a period of treatment he was as upbeat as ever and I had a most joyous evening in his company in the famous Crown bar in Cricklewood!

On another occasion during the weekend of the London association annual event – in fact it was the year Longford’s Colm Moloney was elected Mayor of Brent council – Peter and his wife, Maura, Gerry Quinn and I were guests of Mayor Colm in Brent council chambre on the Monday morning before returning home, the whole visit having been generously arranged by Peter. You just couldn’t buy experiences and memories of that nature.

Peter, being a proud Longford man, just loved his role as a public representative, both as a Longford councillor and later as a TD. And in that context he was well served by his genuine interest in people and his warm personality.

Also read: Emotional tribute as mourners told of how grandson told Longford's Peter Kelly: 'You're a fantastic man Grandad'

Not only did he know most people in his constituency, but he knew their families and wider connections – as someone joked “their seed, breed and generation”, - for which he had an impressive memory, though of course not in a prurient way! None of this was driven by politics, but was innate, having been well honed working in the family business in Main St with his father, Joe, when he was a young man. Joe himself was quite a character, and indeed the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!

Fianna Fáil of course was his party, but Peter wasn’t at all tribal. He made friends across the political spectrum. Indeed he was fondly remembered by many of the Dáil administrative staff, as I found out about two years ago when introduced to a group from there. There were many mornings, I was told, that Peter got their day off to a bright start with a joke or a funny story.

nyone who knew Peter wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Peter’s happy-go-lucky, sunny disposition very much reflected his inner belief that he was “born under a lucky star”, as Peter jnr reminded the congregation in a touching eulogy to his father at his funeral Mass in St Mel’s Cathedral.

Sadly, we won’t have the privilege of experiencing his sunny, larger-than-life personality again, and on the occasion of our final annual event, Peter’s absence will be sorely felt. However, we feel sure he’ll be with us in spirit.

To his wife, Maura, daughter Emily, sons Peter and Joseph, brothers Pat, Vincent, John and Frank, sisters Mary and Claire, extended family, relatives and a wide circle of friends, The Longford Association tenders our sincere sympathy.

The meeting also remembered all recently bereaved families, known to association members, including the families, relatives and friends of Tom Davis, Ballinamuck; Roy Fitzsimons, Lanesboro; Michael Hughes, Longford town; Mary Culhane, Dublin, formerly Tarbert, Co Kerry and Drumlish; Seamus Kiernan, Legan; Karen Clarke-Curran, Newtownforbes; Frank Kelly, Drimnagh, Dublin, formerly Drumlish; Mel Bohan, Ardagh, formerly Bohey, Drumlish; Jimmy Reilly, Newtownforbes and Drumlish; Mairead Begley, Killoe, who died in England; Marie Brady (nee Reilly), Cartron, Drumlish; Mary Noonan, Drumlish and Martha Gunshinan, Drumlish.

Ar dheis De go raibh a h-anamacha dilis.

Also read: Peter Kelly, Longford, was a 'larger than life' character