Sunday 18 February 2018

Village says goodbye to much loved man


A heartbroken community turned out in force yesterday to pay their last respects to John Kenny, the publican and teacher who was killed in his bar in the picturesque Co Galway village of Oughterard.

Mr Kenny's brother Jim, who is a serving member of the gardai, said: "All we can do now is wish the guards success with the case as soon as humanly possible."

The small Connemara town came to a standstill to bid farewell to John Kenny, who was found dead and tied to a chair in the family-owned bar last Sunday morning.

Hundreds of mourners joined Mr Kenny's family, his friends, and students and teachers from Presentation College, Athenry, at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the town.

Mr Kenny, who was a part-time publican at the family-owned business in the village, was found dead by his daughter Gillian last Sunday morning, and in an emotional address to the congregation she paid tribute to her father, whom she called "my best friend".

"Today I want to pay tribute to my dad, my best friend and my strength. I could tell you forever how I loved you more than the whole world, but I hate talking in front of people -- just like you," said Gillian.

"What makes me smile now is my memory of you, me and Mam telling each other stuff that happened during the day. I am so proud of the love and the friendship that we shared until the very end and we will continue to share until the three of us are back together again.

"To the guards, they were just unreal. They gave Dad back the dignity and respect that was taken from him in the early hours of last Sunday morning."

John's brother Jim, who works as a guard, also paid tribute to his friends and colleagues in the Garda Siochana, whom he said were a tower of strength in the past week: "Good must follow evil. Evil spelled backwards is live. Life is for living -- let's stand together, our lives as one for the common good."

Mr Kenny also urged the national and local media to continue to highlight tragedies such as his brother's killing. He said: "To the media, keep the business of life as a priority and keep the pressure on stories and terrible tragedies like this one that happened to John. Be it crime or injustice of any kind. Please shine a light on the darkness and light up the good in life."

The funeral Mass was celebrated by Fr Jimmy Walsh, parish priest of Oughterard, who was also joined by a representative from the local Church of Ireland. Fr Walsh offered his sincere condolences to Mr Kenny's family and to officials who worked so diligently on his case.

"I have become very aware, since last Sunday, that words can lose context or seem totally inadequate," said Fr Walsh.

"What brings us together tragically today is the common bond that we are all struggling without answers.

"It shook us at the depth of life and reminds us all: thou shalt not kill. In a moment, the family's life was turned upside down. The carpet of any certainty you might have as humans was pulled, in the blink of an eye."

Fr Charlie McDonnell, from Westport, who worked alongside Mr Kenny when he served as chaplain in the Presentation College, Athenry, paid tribute to "a popular teacher".

"John gave so freely. He ruled his heart and lived with his conscience. We have to gather to celebrate a man we all so deeply loved. He was the teacher who believed in those for whom others sometimes had no time for.

"His soccer team always included a hard group of players -- because John believed in them. He knew they deserved a chance."

Mr Kenny was laid to rest in the parish graveyard. He is survived by his wife Kathleen, daughter Gillian, brothers Aidan and Jim, and sisters Emer and Mary, as well as extended family.

- JOHN FALLON in Oughterard

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