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Remembering Benedict Kiely

Benedict KielyDermot Harte, ex-Belvederian, remembers his friend Benedict Kiely with fondness. Ben Kiely, a well-known journalist and writer, spent one year as a Jesuit novice in Emo, Offaly.


Ireland’s brightest contemporary literary light – in the person of Benedict Kiely – has been extinguished and our world has become a poorer and a sadder place for his passing. He had graced our presence for almost 88 years. He was ‘Ben’ to all of us who numbered him among our friends – and there were many! Brilliant author in the field of both fiction and non-fiction, poet, raconteur, teller of great stories, writer of children’s books and many short stories, journalist, newspaperman, painter of brilliant “word-pictures,“ star of RTE Radio when he presented a Sunday morning programme on just about anything that caught his mind. His myriad of published works are far too numerous to mention in this newsletter, but for more information just tap “Benedict Kiely” into your computer. You are in for a pleasant surprise!

I knew Ben for almost 70 years and I was extremely fond of him. In fairness to all, he had many dark moments in his long life and sowed acres of wild oats in his earlier days, but I like to think that when he recovered, the true Ben – the real Ben – took his place. He has left a legacy of humour and happiness for all of us to cherish and to remember. And to know him was to never forget him.

He spent a year in the Jesuit noviciate in Emo, but, convalescing from a back injury, he decided that the life of a Jesuit was not for him.

Born near Omagh in County Tyrone, he took Dublin to his heart – and Dublin bade him welcome. He was interred in Omagh yesterday, 13 February, with his mother and father as evening descended. He is survived by his second wife, Frances by his children John, Ann and Emer and by his sister Kathleen, to whom we extend our heartfelt sympathy. His first wife, Maureen, and his eldest daughter, Mary, died many moons ago. May they rest in the peace of Our Lord.

Old friend, rest gently from your labours and thank you for the joy and pleasure you gave to us all.

From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out of the undiscovered ends,
There’s nothing worth
The years of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends.