Fr PADRAIG O'KELLY EI5DA 1916-2008 RIP
At 12:15pm on Saturday Dec 27th 2008 a nurse entered Fr. Oâ€™Kellyâ€™s ward in Limerick Regional Hospital as he sat by his bed. She asked him how he felt. His answer was amazing, â€œHeavenlyâ€ he said and that was his last breath and last word on this earth. He died instantly.
All during his 92 years on this earth he was close to God and for almost 70 of those years he was a priest, having been ordained on the 15th July 1939. Fr Pat loved being a priest and his life was really Christ centered with a tremendous devotion to Holy Mass, the Blessed Eucharist, his Breviary, Our Blessed Lady and the Rosary. Whether as a teacher, a preacher or a pastor he knew he was doing the Lordâ€™s work and he always did it to the very best of his ability. As a student years ago, every aspiring priest was told that his aim in life should be â€“ to be an â€˜Alter Christusâ€™ (another Christ). Fr. Pat tried to live that all his life. Fr.Pat was an extraordinary man; he had a razor sharp mind and was an expert in many fields. Any description of him could include the words of the poet Goldsmith, â€œAnd still they gazed and still the wonder grew that one small head could carry all he knewâ€.
He was extraordinary well read and could converse on any subject but most of all he was mechanically minded. His interests were vast and included building and flying his own aeroplane, being the â€˜masterâ€™ of his own yacht, trains and motor cars, building his own telescope for the hobby of astronomy, computers and indeed Ham Radio. His late brother Eoin was also involved in Ham Radio with the call EI6BX and was the President of IRTS from 1972 to 1975.
Fr. Patâ€™s call sign was EI5DA and GI3PKY during his time in Northern Ireland. He was an active member of the Dundalk Amateur Radio Society and was an integral part of getting the first 2m Repeater on air. This repeater although upgraded is still active today on top of Clermont Cairn just north of Dundalk, it has been active since 1982. He has also been the President of the Dundalk Amateur Radio Society since the beginning of the new millennium. Fr. Pat combined his interest in computers with Ham Radio and for many years transmitted the weekly IRTS news bulletin on 2m RTTY on Monday nights from 8:00 to 8:30pm.
Fr. Pat was endowed with another extraordinary gift and that was his memory. Even after years, your name, what, where and when he met you slipped easily off his tongue. He could remember the dates on which he baptised children when he met them again as adults and even the other children that were baptised on the same occasion. Perhaps his greatest gift was his musical ability. He had a splendid singing voice and was a wizard on the organ and piano. While based in Drogheda during the war years he formed the now famous St. Peters Male Voice Choir who have recently performed at the United Nations. From 1945 to 1975 he was musical director at Trench House in Belfast. He was the Parish Priest of Mellifont from 1975 to 1995 where he formed the Tullyallen Choir. He gave 30 years of his life to teaching music and some of the finest singers and musicians of our time owe their success to the influence of Fr.Pat.
He was so well aware of the many gifts with which the good Lord endowed on him and he never ceased to praise and thank Him for them. During his long life he served God well and for Godâ€™s sake he served his fellow men well. For Fr. PÃ¡draig the long life has ended â€“ the shadows have lengthened, evening has fallen, the busy world is hushed and his work is done. May God in his mercy give him a safe lodging, a holy rest and peace for all eternity.