Kerry family in mourning after Camino holiday tragedy

Concubhar Ó Liatháin

The Baile Mhúirne architect who died after a tragic accident having completed the historic Camino di Santiago in Spain had been an adventurous and outgoing young man with the 'best smile ever', his mother Bernie, from Beaufort, has told The Kerryman.

Tim Kelleher, 35, was standing on a bank by the sea as he bathed his feet at Finistierre on the north Galician sea on Thursday afternoon when the bank collapsed.

He went into the water, and while his friends recovered him from the ocean, he was unconscious, and their efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Bernie and Anthony Kelleher, from Slievereagh in Baile Mhúirne, heard about the tragic accident early on Friday, and are awaiting confirmation about the return of his remains from Santiago, possibly on Friday or Saturday. 

His father, Tony Kelleher, is a respected builder, through which his architect son picked up the interest that led to his career. He is survived by his brother, Anthony; and his uncle, Michael, lives in Killarney.

Initial reports in some media outlets had indicated that Timothy had been swimming and got into difficulties, but his mother said that these were incorrect.

She explained that pilgrims who undertake what is known as the final leg of the Camino, from Santiago to Finistierre, carry out a washing-of-feet ritual at the seaside location.

"He was standing on a bank and the bank went, and he was lost to us," she said.

Timothy had been walking with his friends a week before reaching Finistierre and was due home the Friday evening after the tragedy struck. Before he set out on the Camino, he had been in the region on his own visiting museums and looking at the architecture.

"He wasn't very touristy, but he loved architecture and visiting museums," said Mrs Kelleher. "He had been talking about doing this walk for two years."

He had been on previous holidays in Turkey, Iceland and Germany, where he had toured different sites, studying the architecture and climbing.

"He loved the outdoors and was very adventurous," she said, adding that he would have been 36 at his next birthday, on October 21. He had the best smile ever."

An architect since qualifying from Cork Institute of Technology in 2015, he had been working with Cook & Co in Cork city. He had previously attended Coláiste Ghobnatan in Baile Mhúirne and he had also attended St John's Central College in Cork.

Neighbours have been helping out since the news broke on Friday morning, and preparations are being made for his funeral this weekend.