Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to Co Antrim priest Kevin Donnelly after death aged 94

Archdeacon Kevin Donnelly served in parishes across Co Antrim. Picture from www.thechurchpage.com
John Monaghan

A PRIEST who served in parishes across Co Antrim at the height of the Troubles has died aged 94.

Archdeacon Kevin Donnelly was buried yesterday following Requiem Mass in All Saints, Ballymena.

Born in Ballintoy in February 1922, he served in a wide range of parishes, including Glenarm, Ballymena and Loughguile, where he was parish priest.

Community groups and organisations across the north have paid tribute to the popular cleric, including St Patrick's College in Ballymena and Shane O'Neill's GAA club in Glenarm, where he was a former chairman.

Ordained in 1950, Fr Donnelly's first posting was to the Nazareth Lodge Children's Home on the Ormeau Road in Belfast.

During the Troubles he ministered in city parishes including Corpus Christi and Holy Trinity.

After a period as curate in Ballymena from 1965 to 1972, he returned to the town on his retirement in 1997 and continued to help out in the parish.

In 2013, he published a book called "Letting My Light Shine", a record of his life in the priesthood.

Fr Donnelly told the Ballymena Times in 2012: "I went to Ballymurphy from Ballymena in 1972 when things were at their worst.

"We got a call that a wee boy had been shot and could someone go and attend him.

"I should have been on but it was Fr Noel Fitzpatrick, my fellow curate in St John's that answered the call and was shot dead in the crossfire between the army and the Provisional IRA.

"It was a terrible thing, Fr Noel was a good, saintly priest... It seemed that God wanted me to hang on for another year or two."

Father Patrick Delargy, the current parish priest of Ballymena, said: "Fr Kevin was a priest with a cheerful disposition, a kindly person interested in other people.

"Prayerful and conscientious, loved and admired by the people of Loughguile as an enthusiastic pastor, wise administrator and generous benefactor."

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