Tuesday 23 January 2018

Priest tells mourners of Valentine to Kelly before he died

David Kelly's widow Laurie Morton and their son David
David Kelly's widow Laurie Morton and their son David
The late David Kelly
President Michael D Higgins and wife Sabine
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

ACTING legend David Kelly died just moments after his daughter had finished reading him a Valentine's Day card, mourners heard last night.

At Mr Kelly's removal service at the Church of the Miraculous Medal, Clonskeagh, Dublin, Fr Kevin Bartley said the star was known for his impeccable timing.

He recounted how Mr Kelly's children David and Miriam were at his bedside at the Brothers of St John of God hospital in Stillorgan on Sunday when Miriam went out to her car to pick up the card.


She returned to the hospital room minutes later and read a message of love to her father on behalf of her mum Laurie, herself and her brother. He then passed away. "You could not get that on a Hollywood set," Fr Bartley said.

Among the mourners were President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina, Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, artist Robert Ballagh, actors Stephen Rea, Patrick Laffan and Frank Kelly, director Jim Sheridan, DJ Larry Gogan, PR executive Gerry Lundberg, and former Olympia theatre owner Gerry Sinnott.

Fr Bartley said Mr Kelly (82) had spent 70 years in a career that spanned radio, stage and television but that his first love was always the stage.

The priest said he had played many parts, but his most popular and best remembered was as Rashers Tierney in the 1980 RTE television adaptation of 'Strumpet City'.

"He brought great sensitivity and dignity to a broken character," Fr Bartley said. "That says something about the person of David Kelly."

Fr Bartley said the younger generation would remember him as Grandpa Joe in the 2005 remake of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory', while he was also known for his great comic role as the inept builder O'Reilly in 'Fawlty Towers'.

He and his wife Laurie Morton were together for 51 years. The couple met during a rehearsal for a stage production.

Their two children followed in their parents' footsteps with careers in the creative arts, but when the eldest Dave told his father he was leaving a "steady job", he was initially furious.

"But he rang him back and said I've never had a real job in my life, what am I talking about, and wished him well," Fr Bartley said.

Mr Kelly's funeral takes place this morning at the Church of the Miraculous Medal in Clonskeagh, Dublin 14.

Irish Independent

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