Diplomat Jim Kelly a ‘great family man’ and ‘consummate professional’

President among mourners at funeral of UN representative, who died suddenly last week

Senior diplomat Jim Kelly has been remembered as "a great family man" and "a true and genuine civil servant" at his funeral Mass.

The 56-year-old, who died suddenly last week, was Ireland's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) and previously served as ambassador to Canada.

President Michael D. Higgins and the Taoiseach's aide de camp Commandant Claire Mortimer attended the service at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Kimmage Manor on Friday morning. The chief mourners were Mr Kelly's wife Anne, daughters Orla and Ciara, sister Bernie and brothers Michael, Peter and Stephen.

Originally from Drimnagh in Dublin, Mr Kelly worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs for almost 30 years and spent the last decade in New York and Canada.

Peter Kelly told the congregation that from a very early age his brother had shown an interest in politics and world affairs as well as a passion for sport.

He said that after starting work in the department, Jim “quickly realised that he was in his lifetime career”.

“His day at work was usually full of many of his favourite interests, and he often recalled to Anne that perhaps the only job he might enjoy slightly as much would be as a sports journalist,” he said.

"He was fortunate to work at a variety of positions in the department, both at home in Dublin and abroad in Copenhagen, Brussels, New York and Canada."

‘Great pride’

Peter Kelly said his brother's role in condemning the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine was "something for which he had great pride". While Jim was a "consummate professional" and a "leading diplomat", nothing was more important to him than his family, he added.

“He did everything possible to provide his daughter’s a very supportive and loving environment, which was also full of fun and adventures.”

Jim enjoyed “a very happy life” with Anne, who he had known for more than 30 years, and they shared their enjoyment of “simple pleasures and their love of travelling,” Peter added.

He said the family had received many “kind-hearted and thoughtful comments” from his brother’s friends and colleagues all over the globe.

“Jim, we all love you and words cannot begin to convey how much we will all miss you,” he added. “While you have left a wonderful legacy and a big hole in many lives, you will never be forgotten.

‘Eternally grateful’

“We ask that you give your loved ones who are hurting, a sign that you are there with them still. We shall always treasure the time that we have spent with you and we are eternally grateful for having you in our lives.”

Fr Roddy Curran, who led the service, said Jim Kelly was "a great family man, good husband and a true and genuine civil servant".

“He was faithful and dutiful, giving us good example of the life of a true servant,” he said.

Fr Curran said Jim Kelly had many friends and “radiated his goodness and kindness to others”.

Offertory gifts included the Dublin GAA jersey Mr Kelly had worn when he watched the county's senior football team win their fifth consecutive All-Ireland final at Croke Park in 2019, a Manchester United jersey, a New York city marathon headband, a New York Yankees baseball cap and books, including one on the 50th anniversary on Ireland's membership of the United Nations.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times