remembering joe kilkenny

Joe Kilkenny Remembered


Joe was a truly great character. I knew him through Antoinette Lawlor, his beloved late wife. I could never fathom Joe. He was deeply religious in a way but said he did not believe in Mass or God or at least he said we can’t understand these things. Yet he went to Mass and Communion. A complex soul. Antoinette was a real total saint so I am sure she brought him home safely to heaven. Joe always insisted that heaven was now. He is right now.

Joe was an architect and very proud of the work he had done. He was an extremely private man and managed to stay out of a nursing home even though his home situation was dire. He had fallen several times but stayed at home with help of carers even though he was in bits really due to broken bones. The red wine was his main pain killer. He had a lot of pain. Arthritis.

Many a glass we shared over many a lunch.

There was a lovely silence about his house and grounds. A certain deep holiness. He was austere in a way and held high standards. I held him in reverence. As I held Antoinette’s father, Tony, also. I am sorry i did not visit him more. He was always welcoming yet always distant. His was a very private universe. I think he liked me. I liked him. He was well matched to Antoinette. He always spoke very lovingly of her. I liked his honesty which was searing. He did not suffer fools but was a very kind man. Full of dignity and integrity.

He liked sailing and knew my Uncle Sean. When Antoinette died, Joe became friendly with Elva, a lovely neighbour. I knew him through Joe Kelly also and Brenda Kennedy.

remembering sean russell

Sean Russell – Rest in Peace

Sean, to me, was always a living surprise. He was different. Original. Prophetic, if reluctantly so. An extremely interesting man. He thought. He really did think hard.

And he tried a lot to pray. It was a desert for him.

He really wanted to believe.

Our great mutual friend, John Collins, when asked was whether he was called after St. John the Baptist or St. John the evangelist, replied “ Ah no. John of God!”

Sean had a lot of St. John of the Cross in him. He stared hard into the dark chasms of lonely doubt and wondered. And gazed.

His God was kind. He just could not believe in hell but he recognised the reality of human and natural evil.

Reality with a capital R. “THE ICY HAND” as he called it.

Job of the bible was like a brother to him. I liked him a lot.

He loved to debate and was very well-read to the point of arrogance. He suffered immensely in his sensitive mind because of his need to be genuine. That is what being a character means, in my book. He was extreme in his strong need to be true to himself. He wanted to be understood.

He loved good music and detested bad music. He loved humanity deeply and compassionately. Though he could not stand me. He tried to help the broken who called on him. He was hospitable to outcasts. Even very, very difficult people.

He passionately despised the wholesale corruption of youth by greed and impurity and deceit. He felt keenly the pain of suicide and that is what he feared most in his lifelong battle with severe depression. This constant blackness honed his spirit and intellect to the barest bone.

His contentment was very bleak. How could he let himself be happy in such a miserable world? He campaigned against torture

Still, he opened his heart to new friends and glimpses of pleasantness. He made a great stew. He loved boogey- woogey.

Mysteriously, he was, despite appearances, exceptionally sane and gently humourous. He kept in touch with reality in its darker aspects. And smiled knowingly. This can be one good source of healing. And do we not all need inner healing?

remembering john collins


(John Collins – Rest in Peace)

John liked to use the royal ‘We’.

His was a noble line, without doubt.

He spoke often of his beloved mother, Imelda, and father, Paddy.

He was a twin. His sister Mary and he were always very close.

The whole family were very close. Deeply affectionate.

His dog Jesse slept at the foot of the bed.

The priest in confession in Medugorje once asked John to write out five good points about himself. He could not do this penance because he could not think of any good points in himself.

Kindness, generosity, self-acceptance, good humour and good Faith.

He was close to Jesus, the Sacred Heart.

He loved the Rosary and Our Lady. This grew on him towards the end.

Once when he was chairing an AA meeting in St. Ita’s hospital, (his second home), he caused uproar by pointing to the Sacred Heart on his Pioneer pin and proclaiming strongly:

“That is your Higher Power. Your only Man”.

(It is not a ‘religious’ program, you see)

Jesus was his life from a young age.

In school, he was only good at art and religious knowledge.

I am biased, of course, but I think he was specially gifted in both things.

He was also a bit of a seanachai. Entertaining his visitors in No.6, St. Mary’s place constantly with stories of his life rehashed endlessly with hilarious and ingenious slants. Tragedy and comedy are close.

John chose to live in joy. He chose to smile.

How he tried to give up smoking.

Don Devaney found him trying to smoke a tin of deodorant once

in the early morning in his room in Medugorje having packed the smokes in yet again. He was never far from oblivion.

He was a deeply wounded healer. Suffering intensely with his nerves.

Able to listen. Willing to listen. Absorbing grief and laughing it off

with a little help from the music of Burl Ives and Tina Turner

“A little bitty tear let me down” but

“Big wheels keep on turning, proud Mary keeps on burning….”

 Ar dheis De go raibh a hanam.

Remembering Dolores Farrell

Dolores Farrell- a personal appreciation

Dolores’ qualities which struck me were her compassion, wisdom, gentleness and joyful Faith. She was a very plucky, determined lady. She had a will of her own. Firm in her beliefs. Clear about them. Forthright. And she was invariably positive and encouraging.

From her own real-life experience, she realised the importance of good human formation. Of our humanness. As Fr. Andre Rochais, Founder of PRH education calls it: ‘our humanizing’. She had a lovely sense of humour. Very discreet and sensitive.

I first met her in Bayside, Dublin, in 1988, at her first Irish PRH education workshop, ‘Who am I?’ She helped to foster my own personal growth. Slowly but surely. To learn the humbling necessity of self-appreciation. Building on the inner ground of our personality.

Recognising essential qualities of my being. Rejoicing in the goodness.

Determination to progress. Fortitude in face of obstacles.

Taste for truth. Happy humility. Inner honesty. Straight talking.

Docility to the voice of the Spirit and our deep conscience within.

I remember her starting out from a basement Sandymount flat in the early ‘90s. Her courage in the early days. Her hope. Despite illness.

Many chest infections. Learned to cope with weakness and fatigue.

Taking the mortgage on the house in Clondalkin. Stepping out in trust.

Giving up teaching in school. Her patience with the gradual process of self-discovery. Waiting through setbacks and false starts.

Essential courses of action  and essential  bonds of being.

Relationships that count. Above all having confidence.

I only discovered recently, through Kathleen, that Dolores had been a Mercy sister. Her name in religion was Sr. Celine, after the beloved sister of St. Therese, the little flower. Their common emphasis was on genuine interiority (simplicity) of Faith and devotion. No need for many words. Or signs. The heart contains all. An art of the Heart, as it were.

We can surely pray to Dolores. She never offended anyone, it seems. She was, in manners, a perfect lady. Her inner harmony radiated.

She listened with deep compassion and understood. She was very determined and confident in her own gift and mission.

Let us be confident in our gifts too and try our best to complete what God asks of us as Dolores, my friend, did so well.

She loved and cared for her own mother, Angela, despite difficulties. She stood by me too like Mary, Mother of Dolours, Dolores namesake, who also shares all our feelings with much affection. And a smile.

remembering brian murphy of howth

Remembering Brian Murphy of Grace O Malley road, Howth (Spud’s son)

2020 was a big year for Brian. Liverpool won the League again after many years in the wilderness and the Covid plague struck. Mixed blessings.

Brian used to walk alone a lot around Howth. He used to drink in the woods near the Castle. His had his own wilderness journey, I suppose. A very harmless soul. Always pleasant and friendly. I always stopped and chatted to him. Regularly. He used to come to prayer meetings with me in Bayside in the 80s. His Dad spud Mick (Spud) Murphy was a great howth character too.  Mick was in a wheel chair in the end. He used to be always visible on the bike going about his gardening work. Another Howth legend, as indeed Brian was too, in a very humble, self deprecating way. God loves humble, gentle people. Deep poignant sadness envelops me now especially as United beat us two one on Sunday. Life can be cruel at times! Brian’s lovely mother, Marie, will miss him too.

“You will never walk alone” now, Brian. That is for sure.

At the end of the storm is a bright golden light

and the sweet silver sound of the lark

Remembering Joan Morton

Joan Morton Remembered

Wonderful mother- lovely family- a great credit to her.

Sincere- genuine- childlike but not childish.

Helpful- hard working- truly kind.

Caring- compassionate- a very good listener. Gifted counselor.

She helped me to qualify as a nurse, building my confidence greatly

and to risk the uncertain adventure of human love.

Hospitable- open house- always a welcome for everyone.

Fostered and encouraged many, many young people.

Great faith. Galway roots. Loved Galway. And also beautiful Howth.

Bore illness well. Kept going and never complained.

Was very determined to make most of life.

She had a hard life with many concerns borne with courage and wisdom.

Prayed. Quietly but consistently. Very stable personality.

Loved daily Holy Mass and the family Rosary

Deeply spiritual. And interested in all helpful spirituality.

Not narrowly religious. She had an expansive soul. Open to all humanity.

That is source of her great capacity for love and friendship.

Accepted husbands Peter’s death. A big setback.

Appreciated Peter’s own beautiful Christian faith and life.

Prayed hard for ecumenism. Was very united with Peter.

Christ’s greatest desire of unity among His children.

Worked hard to raise family. Developed her own talents eg. Painting.

Dedicated nurse. Loved her work though it could be difficult.

Knew her own limitations. Became more easygoing towards the end.

God rest her now. She deserves a rest.

Remembering Antoinette

Antoinette (Lawlor) Kilkenny

A few words about Antoinette:

I remember Antoinette serving sandwiches and not having one herself.

The kindest of the kind.

I remember her bringing out nice china and serving me tea and cake when I called on a Sunday afternoon.

I thought I was someone special.

She was.

She was passionate about Jesus.

Passionate about Mass. And about Our Lady.

Passionate about Truth.

Her father, Tony, and her husband, Joe,

were also my friends.

They were like earth wires for the Power of Merciful Love

that poured through Antoinette.

She saved my life. Really.

How many young people did she help.

And help at a spiritual level. Fruit that will last.

I remember Antoinette when she got sick. So very sick.

Her dignity. Her desire to keep praying.

Her acceptance. Childlike gentleness.

She was gutsy.

She did not trust the people behind the EU empire building.

Though she Loved Pope John Paul 2nd

And his vision for Europe

Memories of my Uncle John

Memories of Uncle John (4-12-22)

Yesterday was my Uncle John Sheeran’s 20th anniversary. It was also my Dad’s 5th anniversary. John was a very big influence on me as was John Jnr. Dr John.

I spent happy teenage summers in magical, hospitable Mullinasole with Lottie eating their Calvita cheese or was it Galtee? And playing Cluedo. They were very good to me. Great times out on the ‘Mary Kate’ boat, swimming and fishing. His own work. He built the Mary Kate. An amazing man, really. Very talented.

John was a legend in many ways eg keeping bees, pigeons and hunting dogs. He was very gifted with his hands. Very artistic. I think he was a reader too. Mullinasole was awash with books. His death was sudden and premature, a bit like my wife, Maura’s brother Pat Hooper. Unexpected.

John was quite a serious guy. He had grandfather’s gravity. He was like grandfather in many ways. He could get angry. But he also liked Brendan Grace “Bottler”. Those old tapes in the car. Great laughs.

I did not get talking to John as much as to Joe and Charlie. Like Uncle Paul, John kept himself busy. He was an active doer. Very energetic. John did not confide much in me really. He did not do much small talk. In those days, before I got married, I was very unmaterialistic. Very idealistic/unrealistic. John had hearing problems too. He threw his hearing aids into a lake once in frustration!

John’s real experience of the world of money as a bank manager was not on my youthful wavelength, really. I was a bit of a dreamer. As they say “Love is blind. And marriage is an eye opener”. Family was his big thing.

Also the Troubles in the North soured living in Magherafelt in County Derry for many years. He was most himself in nature in Donegal eg fishing for brown trout with an otter board up in lakes in the hills. He minded his family well. All v bright.

We had fishing in common. At 17, I was a keen angler. And a fly tier. Before I got the Religion Bug age 20. I also worked in Timoney’s Factory when I was 15. A good experience. Happy, sunny memories of beautiful Donegal and a very special soul.

Memories of my uncle Joe

Memories of Uncle Joe (4-12-22)

Uncle Joe Sheeran, “Big Joe”, is 13 years dead this Tuesday December 6th.

I have very happy memories of him. I really liked him and enjoyed talking to him.

Once I brought my slightly pretentious artistic friend, Michael Connaughton, from Howth, to visit Joe in Mountcharles. Michael was a government artist, as they say. All his life, he drew the dole!

Anyhow, Michael told Joe he was organising a Poetry Festival.

“Oh” says Joe “and what does a Poultry festival involve?”

Then Joe asked Michael “Do you pay much tax?”

You had to laugh. Joe had a great way of winding you up!

I have so many good memories of Big Joe. And he was big.

He loved his grub. A Matson failing. The big-boned Northeners. My genes too.

Actually Joe was named Joseph Matson Sheeran, I think.

I am 18 stone myself now. Back then, I swore I would never end up too heavy.

I used to lecture Joe on the importance of walking! God forgive me…..

“Anno Domine” as my Dad would say. The years pass….

We talked about  so much. We covered a lot of ground. Joe had a few hobby horses that you had to steer around. I always felt welcome in Joe’s. I was single then and glad of warm, comfortable refuges where my strong Christian Faith was accepted.

Joe had good humour too. He ying and yanged great with Máire. She is still holding her own.

He always encouraged me strongly to get married. I was not sure back then if maybe i was meant to stay single for the Lord.

He was right. My happiness in life really only started when i got married. 10 years ago now.

Many times he told me how he met Máire and fell in love. He knew straight away she was the one for him.

We shared a lot in our conversations. He trusted me and liked me. He was clever too. As he got older, he was not so well. We became deeper in our discussions.

God, I loved Joe.  I was not unaware of some of his weak points.

John Collins, my old Howth friend, used to say “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter”.

Joe’s love of his family shone through. His pride in his work was also important. Young Joey really inherited this gift.

Joe is a warm glow in my mind. I know he was a bit of a lovable rogue, in some ways, like Shakespeare’s Falstaff, but he was good to me. He was a good friend to me.