THE music was fabulous and it was a bonus that rain stayed away as Edenderry journalist, Kevin Farrell, was laid to rest in his home cemetery, before what must have been one of the biggest crowds to gather for the graveyard prayers.
He would have been 64, on Tuesday, July 17.
Following a long illness, the journalist, who was particularly well known in Offaly and Kildare, passed away at his home in Monasteroris on 2 July. Within hours, a newspaper he helped launch, the Offaly Express, closed its doors.
Former editor of the Offaly Express and the Leinster Leader, Monasterevin native Senator John Whelan, said it was a proposal from the Edenderry journalist which led to the Offaly Express being set up in 1984, as part of the Leixlip Express, which started in 1831.
Another former Express reporter, Jody Corcorcan, current Deputy Editor of the Sunday Independent, said in the paper’s final edition that Kevin had a formative influence on his career. “My happiest moments were on the road with Kevin Farrell, the best journalist of his kind I have ever met.”
Edenderry parish priest, Fr. P.J. Evoy, a long time friend of Kevin’s summed his life up very well at his funeral mass on 4 July.
Noting the sadness of the occasion, he said his death was a “heartbreak” to his family.
A devoted father and doted on his grandchildren, the birth of his latest grandchild, Ruby Katie, on 27 June, lifted his spirits.
Fr. McEvoy said we should celebrate his life. Kevin, he said, packed a lot into his life – he was a hardware shop assistant, a showband manager, entertainer, a promoter, a recording artist, a poet and a journalist and author.
But he was most especially a family man.
Many would have seen how he rose up through the ranks through hard work and commitment. He was proud of Edenderry, its people and entertainers. One of his wishes in later life was to cherish the memories of the entertainers and all they had given him. He established the Edenderry Entertainers Commemorative Committee and it was a proud day when he unveiled a monument in their honour in St. Mary’s Cemetery over two years ago.
A wreath was laid at that monument on Wednesday.
Fr. McEvoy told the large gathering that Kevin loved the way entertainers gave of their time to help people in trouble, put food on tables and make Christmas a reality for children.
He organised a concert to help the first Edenderry pilgrimmage to Lourdes. “We thought it would be a once off but it is 40 years going now,” said Fr. McEvoy.
Fr. McEvoy said that while many knew of Kevin’s public works, his private aid to people was less well known and he never spoke of it.
He said Kevin’s last year was difficult, but he lived it with immense courage, dignity, determination and hope. The love of Eileen and his family were a tower of strength over this difficult journey. “His preparation for his death was truly remarkable and inspirational.”
Fr. McEvoy said Kevin had wished that Larry Cunningham would be present at his funeral to sing “My Lovely Leitrim.”
Larry was not able to come but sent a letter saying he was heartbroken he could not do.
We were happy to hear Larry sing on a CD with the aid of Christy Dunne’s technology and the other musicians and singers whose music was much appreciated on the day: John Quinlan, Mags Brady, Ed Kenny, Pauric Browne, Albert Flynn, Thomas Nolan, Vinny Baker and Gerry Collins.
Condolences were sent from Johnny Logan in Germany and Brendan Grace in the USA.
Fr. McEvoy summed up Kevin well when he said: “He had a deep and questioning faith. He always looked for the truth.”
We thanked God for his life, he concluded.
Kevin was the son of Patrick and Mary Farrell and came from a large family. Two of his siblings, a sister, Margaret, and a brother, Liam, have also passed on.
I was privileged to meet Kevin when I started to work for the Leinster Leader in Edenderry in 1980. As a story finder, he was the best journalist, with whom I worked closely.
He had an incredible nose for news story, but could be controversial at a time when society was more conservative than it is today. To his credit, many of those he wrote about around the country kept in touch with him and he paid a lot of attention to keeping up contacts with people he met.
He worked for the Offaly Topic at the outset, and his “Nivek” column often got up noses.
He then went to work for the Leinster Express followed by the Offaly Express, based in Edenderry.
He was also working freelance for the Sunday World in these early days and aided its midlands presence.
The publication of stories for the Sunday World were an element in his subsequent disagreement disagreement with and departure from the Express. Arguably, that newspaper, which closed on the day of Kevin’s death, 2 July, lost out.
The Irish Daily Star benefitted from his hard work and numerous contacts. It was involved when Kevin launched his memoirs in Larkins’s last November.
Kevin was delighted to have Star editor Ger Colleran launch his book “Its All News To Me,” (Memoirs of an Irish Journalist.)
That paper, as well as the Sunday World, was represented in Edenderry last week.
Kevin Farrell is survived by his wife, Eileen, sons, Kevin and David, daughter, Sinead, grandchildren, Darragh, Caoimhe, Holly, Leah and Ruby.
Two of his siblings, a sister, Margaret, and a brother, Liam, have also passed on and he is also surved by brothers Sean, Paud, Tony and Seamus, who writes for the Leinster Leader, and sisters, Josie (Martin), Nan or Ann (Usher) and Mary (Reilly).
- Henry Bauress