Minute’s silence for late manager of Ruislip GAA club house at Sunday’s London-Waterford game
Tributes have been paid to popular London GAA figure Kevin Kelly, who passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 55. From Clara in Co Offaly, Mr Kelly was general manager at the Emerald Grounds in Ruislip for more than a decade and was a well-known and respected member of the GAA community in London and the wider London Irish Community.
Mr Kelly was diagnosed with a Grade IV brain tumour (Glioblastoma) in July 2016. London County Board Chairperson John Lacey, a personal friend of Mr Kelly’s for many years, and fellow Round Towers clubman, said: “He was one of the most decent people ever involved in the GAA in London.
“He could never do enough for people – you could always call on Kevin to help. Nothing was ever too much trouble. He was a very generous individual.
“Kevin will be greatly missed by the Irish community in London and the GAA. He was a gentlemen.”
Mr Kelly came to London in 1987. A trained chef, he was a publican at several pubs across London, before being appointed general manager at Ruislip. A position he held for more than a decade. He was introduced to Round Towers GAA Club by its former chairperson and now Life President Dermot O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien was area manager of two Allied Breweries pubs managed by Mr Kelly, The Alma and the Greyhound.
“Not a lot of people know, but after finishing work at the Alma of a night, he’d go around and feed the homeless around Croydon,” said Mr O’Brien, a fellow Offaly man.
“He helped an awfully lot of Irish people, particularly from Offaly. He recommended a lot of good people to me for employment.
“A committee member of Round Towers for many years, taking up the posit ion a s general manager at Ruislip meant a three-hour round trip to attend meetings and training sessions.
“I’m going to miss him, he was a true and honest Offaly man who did good for his fellow Irish. If he couldn’t do you a good turn, he wouldn’t do you a bad one. He will be sadly missed.”
Mr Kelly also managed London’s Junior football team for many years, enjoying provincial success, and in 2013 guided Heston Gaels to an Intermediate Championship title. A trustee of the Safe Start Foundation charity, Mr Kelly was also well-known for his many years of raising money for charities for the Irish in London.
Kevin also served as chair of the Offaly Association in London and was involved in the London GAA Supporters Club. Liam Brennan, who knew Mr Kelly since the 1980s and worked with him for London Juniors, described him as a “great GAA man and a great character”.
He added: “You couldn’t have a better friend. He was full of life.
“The night of the appreciation night for Kevin last year told its own story – Ruislip was absolutely packed. You couldn’t get into the place and it wasn’t just GAA people – musicians and people came from all over.
“That brought it home to me that this man was something special.
“Many’s a young lad who came to him here and he saw them looked after. When I was involved with London Seniors if you needed anything you could always give him a call, even if it was to pick someone up.
“He did a really good job as general manager at Ruislip, and there were some difficult times. Immigration had stopped, but he always managed to get a good turnover in the club.”
His death has brought tributes from across all regions of the GAA, including from his home county Offaly, who tweeted from their official GAA account
— Official Offaly GAA (@Offaly_GAA) March 24, 2018
London’s senior footballers held a minute’s silence before their National League Division 4 fixture with Waterford. The flag also flew at half-mast in his memory. Mr Kelly leaves behind daughters, Ciara, Pamela and Alanna, , and Sarah Jane and son Stephen.