Tributes have been paid to the manager of the Irish Cultural Centre (ICC) David O’Keeffe, 59, after his sudden and untimely death at his west London home last Saturday.
David came to London from Dublin in the 1990s and would have been 60 on 22 December, was recruited to ICC Hammersmith last year after a distinguished career in broadcast production and the arts.
David’s brief had been to put the ICC content on a par with the financial and physical resources that went in to the newly rebuilt and modernised £3.5million centre. In effect, to bring it into the 21st century.
Despite it being early days, he was broadly successful in this and full of ideas on how to further improve the offering and get paying punters in.
A statement from the ICC team read: “It is with unbearable sadness that we have to tell you of the sudden death of our wonderful David on Saturday last.
“For those of you who have known him in the past 18 months, you will have regularly enjoyed his warmth, humour, kindness and overwhelming professionalism and commitment to ICC.
“Born in Dublin, David was a Communications graduate from DCU and had an enormously successful career in British TV, working as series editor for Kilroy, (Piers) Morgan & Platell, the David Frost Show and many others. He always wanted to make a meaningful contribution to society and left TV to train as an acupuncturist, gaining a first in his year and going on to be a skilful, caring and talented practitioner in Chiswick. He combined this with a senior role in Youth Music– a charity dedicated to helping children and young people to develop personally and socially through music – no matter what social background or experience.
“Not content with all of that, David was also hugely committed to human rights and in particular those of the LGBT community. He was also a long-standing committed supporter of the Palestinian cause while also raising many thousands of pounds for the relief of Syrian children through unforgettable garden parties in his former home in Twickenham.
“Giving something back to Ireland was his focus and when he moved to ICC in June 2018, it allowed him to blend his creative, caring and musical/theatrical expertise into the role which he made his own. ICC now has the most extensive and diverse single programme of cultural events outside of Ireland.
“From the revamped foyer which was his pet project this year, to the new art gallery and rehearsal venue, his imprint was light but thoughtful and forward looking.
“As well as supporting the existing membership, he was keen to expand and bring more of the recent successful Irish Diaspora to ICC to appreciate the fantastic range of events and learning activities – as well as the craic we all enjoyed at the bar on many a night.
“Remembering David, it was his sense of fun and of the ridiculous; his warmth and his kindness that made him such an engaging and wonderful person. He was proud to be Irish and gay and was very much loved by a wide circle of friends, as well as being deeply cherished by his family.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, agus suaimhneas síoraí.
May your Dreamcatcher watch over and protect you always.”
Adrian O’Neill, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK, attended many of David’s ICC events and said: “I and my colleagues in the embassy are shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden death of David O’Keeffe.
“We send our sincere sympathies to his family and his friends and colleagues at the Irish Cultural Centre.
“As General Manager of the ICC, David made a rich contribution to cultural life in London and indeed to the wider Irish community.
“He will be greatly missed by his many friends.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.”