The Augustinian community in Drogheda is mourning the loss of beloved member Bro. Nicholas Kearney OSA, who died on June 13th 2022 after a short illness.
Although born in Galway, Nicholas moved to Drogheda while still a baby and always considered himself a Drogheda man. He was known in religious life as Nicholas but among family and friends he was known as Seamus/James. Tragedy struck at an early age with the death of his young mother.
His father Tom, now a widower with two small children Seamus and his sister Maureen (Kearney Travel) moved back to Drogheda where he had family. With the help of his sister Cissy, niece May and the Byrne family, the two children were lovingly cared for. In due course, his father remarried which brought another family of brothers and sisters for Seamus and for Maureen.
Seamus entered the Augustinians in the Spring of 1947 and his first mentor there was Fr. Duffner OSA, a fellow Drogheda man. He had many great stories from those early days of his studies and formation. He was a born storyteller and had the knack of describing a very ordinary experience as something funny and amusing. Few people could match his ability to tell a good yarn. When he was still a student, he learned how to drive and this was the start of a lifelong knowledge and love of cars.
Nicholas lived in various communities in both Ireland and England. Being able to drive back in the 40’s and 50’s was rare, so he was always in demand to drive friars to events, gatherings and meetings ensuring an endless supply of stories and adventures to be recounted and embellished at a later date. He had many happy memories of his time in Clare Priory, the first Augustinian House in England, located in a small rural part of Suffolk where according to Nicholas, there were only seven Catholics in the village and four of them were Augustinians living in the Priory.
While there however he succeeded in coming second in the annual “lawn cutting” competition!
Nicholas spent many years in the Augustinian community in John’s Lane where he applied his talents to raising money for the Foreign Missions. He began the “Car A Month” draw which was a monthly raffle to win a new car. This was a hugely successful fund raiser and it allowed Nicholas to show his entrepreneurial skills as well as allowing him to indulge his passion for cars. For much of his time in John’s Lane he lived with two other Drogheda men, Bro Joseph Pius Kirwan OSA and Fr. Tom Cooney OSA, sadly both now deceased.
Current Augustinian Prior, Fr. Colm remembers as a newly ordained priest driving Nicolas up to Drogheda regularly to visit his sister Maureen for lunch and the local news. On the way home, Nicholas would buy two copies of the Drogheda Independent for Bro. Pius and Fr. Tom.
St. Augustine believed that living in community with friends searching for God, one in mind, one in heart was at the core of the Christian Life. This was the life Nicholas lived as an Augustinian. He loved his faith, his family and his friends, and for him all three flowed into each other seamlessly and eternally. He made great friends wherever he went and was always in good spirits with a story and a joke for every occasion.
Predeceased by his sister Maureen he will be deeply missed by his two sisters Jeanette and Angela, his four brothers Tom, Liam, Eamonn and Fergus. He will also be greatly missed by a wide circle of friends and his fellow Augustinian confreres who were privileged to have been able to call him Brother for over 70 years. Honouring his final wishes, Nicholas is buried in the Augustinian plot in St. Peter's Cemetery in his hometown of Drogheda. May his kind soul rest in peace.