London mourns loss of Kilburn legend

London mourns loss of Kilburn legend

Farewell Christy Kissane

THE LONDON Irish community is mourning the loss of one of its most prominent and wellloved figures after publican Christy Kissane passed away last week. Kissane’s family announced on Wednesday that he had sadly passed away at the age of 69, having attended the Kerry Association London dinner in Cricklewood the previous Friday.

His close friend Danny Tim O’Sullivan said that he was to Kilburn what Nelson’s Pillar was to Dublin’s O’Connell Street. “Everyone knew of Christy, and he was Kilburn.

The same way that people would look out for Nelson’s Pillar on O’Connell Street, Christy was the pillar, a beacon of Kilburn High Road.

‘He was a beacon of Kilburn High Road, he was our Nelson’s Pillar.’

We hope that in time we can honour him with a fitting tribute, perhaps a plaque in the area, for him and his family,” he said. His first pub, in the mid-1970s, was the Windsor Castle on the Harrow Road which he built into a chain of pubs and taverns across west and north west London before eventually concentrating on his pride and joy, the Kingdom in Kilburn.

The Kingdom, was in itself a testimony to Christy’s love of GAA as he frequently hosted the Kerry players and the Sam Maguire Cup. He was well-known for his tireless support of the GAA and Irish community here, having sponsored many a club and county, and setting up many a person with work and contacts on their arrival to the area. He was life president of the Kerry Association London and vice-chairman of the Kingdom Kerry Gaels. Based in Dollis Hill, Christy’s proud boast was that he had been to every All Ireland football final since 1962 except for the one in 1968 when construction work kept him in London. The London Kerry Association said on Thursday: “It is with great sadness and heart break that we announce the passing of our Life President Christy Kissane. A hero to many, a reliable friend, a much loved father and grandfather. “You will be massively missed Christy and will leave a gaping hole in our community.

No words can describe how we feel at this moment in time. Deepest condolences to Christy’s much loved and respected family at home and here in the UK.” Mr. O’Sullivan went on to tell the Irish World: “First of all I would like to express my deepest sympathies to Christy’s family on both sides of the Irish sea, and to his friends and neighbours here and at home as he touched so many lives. “We were very close. I knew him for 45 years on a personal level and through work. He was there for me day and night when I first arrived in London.

“I had initially met him at Puck Fair in the 1960s having known of him before. When I first moved to London he helped me out greatly, in terms of cheques and finding work, as there was no such thing as instant bank accounts in those days. “He was a unique man, and one that we won’t see the likes of again. He did super work for lots of people.

“He was a great GAA man. He kept the Kingdom Kerry Gaels going for 25 years both with his presence at the club, in helping to find players, offering them support and also his financial contribution to the club. “He himself was the backbone of the club in his playing days in the 1970s before the team amalgamated.

“He was just a hugely respected man, by man woman and child and he will be sadly, sadly missed. We would organise race days where people from Ireland would come over each year and join the community here, and go to Cheltenham or Newbury or wherever. It will never again be the same for those people.

“His loss will be deeply found. He was a real man of the community and would attend endless funerals, association dances, community events and lend his support to all. I will miss him dearly.” Noel O’Sullivan, chairman of the London County Board, spoke of how much he gave to the GAA community, as well as his own sense of loss on a personal level.

“I knew Christy for the past 35 years, and I was deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing last week. In terms of his involvement with London GAA, he was a great supporter of his beloved Kingdom Kerry Gaels and a great supporter of the county board also.

‘Christy was the lifeblood of Kingdom Kerry Gaels’

“Recently, when we were looking for patrons to help support the Ruislip development he was the first to come forward and offer his support. He will be a great loss to London GAA. He was even at the grounds as late as the Conway Cup final on October 18 supporting his beloved Kingdom Kerry Gaels in their game against St Kiernans. “On behalf of all members of the GAA I would like to send our condolences to his extended family.”

Kingdom Kerry Gaels issued the following statement: “It is with the utmost sadness and regret that Kingdom Kerry Gaels announce the sudden and untimely passing yesterday of the rock upon which the club stands, the absolute legend and gentleman that was our Vice Chairman Christy Kissane. “Throughout his long service with the club, Christy served as player, team mentor and filled practically every committee position. His passing has shocked us all, and our thoughts and prayers are with Christy’s family and huge circle of friends at this sad time.

“Christy was the lifeblood of the KKG club, and his pub The Kingdom on Kilburn High Road is the headquarters of the club. It is fair to say that the club will never be the same again, but will live on long in his memory. Christy had the respect and admiration of the entire GAA community in London and indeed in his native Killorglin and Kerry, home of his beloved Laune Rangers.

“He was always a very generous man who was very supportive of the GAA both here and at home, as well as being Life President of the Kerry Association here in London. His passing leaves a huge void in the lives of everyone who knew him, he was the kind of man who would do anything for anyone and expect nothing in return. There are countess people in London and beyond who owe Christy a huge debt of gratitude for the help and support he gave them.

“Words can’t really adequately express what Christy meant to those who knew and loved him, he was a larger than life character who lived life to the full, we will all have our own special memories of nights spent in his company when you would walk away with a smile on your face, he just had that effect on you. Our lives are certainly the better for having known him. “

As KKG chairman Paul O’- Connor said; “our hearts are broken”. You were one of a kind Christy, and hopefully you’re up there in Heaven’s Croke Park watching Páidi and the other Kerry legends who went before you in action.”

Find Christy’s funeral arrangements here


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