There is “widespread shock” in the Diocese of Kerry at the unexpected death of a much-loved priest and columnist Fr Kevin McNamara.
Fr Kevin , as he was known affectionately, was in hospital for a number of days – it is understood for a planned procedure — when he suddenly took ill and died. He was in his mid sixties.
A native of Co Clare, he was ordained in 1981 and his first parish was in Liverpool in the UK.
He had been parish priest in the Church of the Sacred Heart on the Western Road in Co Cork and he wrote a column for The Evening Echo.
In more recent years he served in the Diocese of Kerry, in Killarney, Rathmore and Moyvane and had recently been appointed to Glenflesk near Killarney.
He had continued writing both as a columnist in a number of publications and in his parish newsletters, and featured in a number of broadcasts. He was regarded as a great communicator, in both the written word and with his fine singing voice.
One of his favourite songs was The Cliffs of Dooneen.
During lockdown he began saying masses at the side door of his church in Moyvane to parishioners who would drive in and remain in their cars.
Outspoken, he strongly objected to a depiction of confession on the soap Fair City last April and asked his parishioners to question why they should pay their TV licence – he forgave the series after RTÉ made contact and apologised for any offence.
He had also featured in an RTÉ documentary on sin and confession entitled The Confessors.
There was a light-hearted side to him and in advance of Lent in 2015, when the steamy Fifty Shades of Grey was all the rage, he erected a banner in his parish in Rathmore saying “Whatever about the 50 shades — Remember the 40 days!”
Fr Kevin said he was "a great believer in the public pulpit" and he wanted to remind people Lent was a time of renewal and joy. The move followed a note from Pope Francis to priests urging them to brush up on their communications and preaching skills.
In a statement, the Diocese of Kerry expressed its widespread shock and sadness at the sudden death of Fr Kevin McNamara.
"We all regret his passing. Rest in peace Fr. Kevin," the statement on behalf of Bishop Ray Browne said.