The town of Killarney was united in grief this past week following the untimely passing of popular Spa native John Kelly. A devoted family man and a stalwart of numerous associations and clubs, it was John’s incredible dedication and loyalty that set him apart as a truly remarkable man.
In 1966, he was part of the first ever Spa team to win an O’Donoghue Cup and his great love for the GAA never waned over the years. The former club Chairman also served as PRO for over 40 years and gave great service to the East Kerry Board, acting as Chairman, PRO and, most recently, as President.
The Kerry seniors also benefitted from his fierce commitment as he worked as a masseuse for Páidí ó Sé’s team between 1997 and 2004.
John was passionate about rowing and pitch and putt and remained active within the Killarney Regatta, Workmen’s Rowing Club and Deerpark Club throughout his life.
His involvement with so many sporting organisations meant John was a constant contributor to the Killarney Advertiser. He was a tireless worker no matter who he was representing and we had the pleasure of witnessing that on a weekly basis.
Killarney Advertiser Director Cormac Casey said he would be sadly missed. “Johnny was a friend of the Advertiser and of the Casey family for as long as I can remember,” he said.
“He was probably our earliest ever club correspondent for the Killarney Notes. We always enjoyed working with him on various projects over the years. Johnny had very kind words for us on our 30th birthday celebrations when he spoke on Frank Lewis’ radio show, which is something we always appreciated.”
Following his death on Monday, Spa GAA and the East Kerry Board were quick to offer their condolences.
“Heavy heart today,” Spa said in a statement on Twitter. “Sad news that John Kelly, former club Chairman, East Kerry GAA Chairman and Kerry GAA delegate has passed away. RIP.”
In a statement, the East Kerry Board said they were “shocked and saddened” at the news. “We wish to extend our sincere sympathies to his wife Sheila, his family and his many friends at his beloved Spa GAA… John was widely known and highly regarded, and his induction into the East Kerry Hall of Fame was well deserved. May he rest in peace.”
John is survived by his wife Sheila and their five children.