Tuesday 17 October 2017

Dr Padraic Conway

Theologian and academic believed in the concept of 'table fellowship' to resolve issues, writes Daniel McConnell

DR PADRAIC Conway, who died last weekend at the age of just 50, was a proud Sligo man, theologian and academic.

As vice-president of UCD for University Relations, following a time with Anderson Consultants, Trocaire and the Trinity Foundation, he became one of UCD president Hugh Brady's chief lieutenants during his great reform programme.

He was also director of the UCD International Centre for Newman Studies.

Typified by a reluctance to let sleeping dogs lie, Conway showed a great tenacity both in his theology as well as in his wider university responsibilities, which sometimes brought conflict, but most times ensured discernable progress.

Despite having battled cancer for three years, he remained a significant presence in Belfield right up until his death.

Padraic Conway was born in Sligo town and attended Summerhill College, Sligo, from 1974 to 1979 before going on to study French and philosophy at University College Cork and subsequently biblical and theological studies at Trinity College Dublin.

One of his central theological concerns was with what he called 'table fellowship', leading him to conclude that the best way to resolve issues was to sit down to talk.

As a result, he spent much of his time discussing such hot issues at the table and in convivial settings.

Yet, he could be partisan in politics and was not shy in making his views known on any subject whether popular or unpopular.

He brought endless energy and his force of personality every time he met to do business, to do friendship or to celebrate life. He commanded respect and loyalty from those who worked for him and with him, and many tributes have been paid since his death.

Dr Brady himself said: "He was a unique figure at the college, constantly on the move, mobile phone pressed to his ear, waving a greeting to one of his many friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Always entertaining, sometimes combative, never boring, he embodied all of the features of Belfield life, the academic, the sporting, the social and the political. He will be sadly missed by his many friends and colleagues."

He was a lover of many sports, but it was his commitment to the GAA that will be most remembered. Not a gifted player himself, he gave selflessly and tirelessly to the cause of Sligo GAA, where he served as president of the Friends of Sligo Football in 2003. He also loved rugby and was immensely proud of having captained the Sligo under-15 team of 1977.

After the funeral mass in the University Church last Monday, Padraic Conway's body was taken back to his native Sligo and he was laid to rest in Drumcliffe Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife Aine and daughter Grace.

Sunday Independent

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