Brother Brendan Kelly Born 6 August 1910 Entered Roscrea 22nd May 1932 professed 9th December 1937 Co-founded Nunraw 1946 Died 14 December 1949 Brother Brendan Denis Kelly Community Chronicle 5 September 1947 - Following on X-ray on Br. Brendan, he is found to have active tuberculosis and must needs go to a sanatorium. Denis Kelly was Baptised and confirmed in the Parish of Oghil & Kiltormer, Diocese of Clonfert. (Lawrencetown, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway). He began his monastic life at Roscrea Abbey. He was among the founders of Nunraw in 1946. In the following year he was found to be suffering from tuberculosis. He was the first monk to die and to be buried at Nunraw. The following profile of Br. Bernard was written by Abbot Camillus Claffy in his retirement at Roscrea Abbey. Archives, Roscrea: Profile of Brother Brendan (1910 - 1949) by Camillus Claffy (1965)
Half way between the towns of Portumna and Louhgrea in Co. Galway lies a small village by name Laurencetown. These three places are not, as is sometimes supposed, in the diocese of Galway. Neither are they situated in the archdiocese of Tuam. East County Galway belongs to the diocese of Clonfert, which was founded n the year 557 by St Brendan the Navigator. In medieval Ireland Clonfert had been renowned as a seat of learning. As a result the diocese was so called. Today the ancient cathedral, no longer in Catholic hands, is visited for its noteworthy specimens of Irish Romanesque styles. The west doorway and east windows of the old cathedral are remarkable for this style of architecture.. In the parish of Laurencetown in August 1910, Denis Kelly was born. On the eleventh of the month the child was taken for baptism to the church. He came of honourable stock. Part of his native county was formerly known as the country of the O’Kellys. A builder by trade, his father had also a small holding. By hard work and later with the help of several sons who eventually became tradesmen the Kellys increased the number of acres of their farm and they built themselves a spacious house. When he was 21 years old Denis decided to leave all things and follow Christ. Up to then he had been helping at home on the farm. Unfortunately we have little or no information to set down as to what brought about the vocation of Denis or why he chose the Cistercian Order. Much nearer home was the novitiate of the Carmelite friars of the more strict observance. In Loughrea they have both a public church as well as their house of formation.. Throughout the diocese where they are constantly called on to supply for the diocesan priests and to preach retreats, these Fathers are highly esteemed. Young men in goodly numbers enter their novitiate from the diocese. As a result, one finds among the clergy of Clonfert and the Carmelite friars near relatives. Be that as it may, Denis did not feel called to that Order. There can be little doubt that before coming to the monastery he visited Mount St. Joseph more than once. Here he received, from one of the confessors, counsel and instruction. Before taking the final step, this is usually the procedure for those thinking of entering. On May 22, 1932, the records of the monastery tell us that Denis Kelly entered the novitiate. For Ireland this had been a historic year. A double celebration took place, namely, the fifteenth centenary of St. Patrick’s coming to preach the faith, and the holding of the Eucharistic Congress which, it was said, a million people attended. The new arrival was a tall and rather frail looking man. Shy, modest and reserved, his head seemed at times to incline to one side. For an ordinary country youth who had never previously been away from home this must have been a tremendous change. The step from the world into a Trappist monastery is for every aspirant a big and sometimes a painful one. On June 19, following, Mr. Kelly received the postulant’s robe. Being from the diocese of Clonfert we are not surprised to see that the religious name he chose, or that had been suggested to him, was Brendan. After the six month’s postulancy the abbot clothed the postulant with the novice’s habit. This ceremony took place on the feast of our Lady’s Immaculate Conception in the same year that he entered. The Fr. Master who trained Br. Brendan and his fellow novices testified that he was one in a thousand - a man without guile. Kindness, generosity, humility and obedience together with reverence for superiors and respect for his brethren characterised him. It is hardly necessary to add that during the formative years he neglected nothing. In this way he accepted the values and set the standard he would maintain to the end. When the time came for the making of his first temporary vows, Br. Brendan was admitted without question. The event took place on 9 December 1934. We notice that two years and one day elapsed since the taking of the novice’s habit. On this same day three years later (1937), by making solemn vows, he gave himself generously to God for the years that were left to him. A man of intelligence and diligence, Br. Brendan always sought the last place. By nature he was shy and modest. However when obedience assigned him the undertaking of a task or duty, he gave of his best. From the time of his first profession to September 5, 1946, when he was sent to Scotland to assist at the newly founded monastery of Sancta Maria, Nunraw, he was mostly employed as one of the several assistants who looked after the poultry. Though never robust, he rarely suffered from illness. In January 1946, when Roscrea’s first foundation was made, the abbot selected him as one of the pioneers. In autumn he became one of the exiles who never afterwards saw the land of their birth. The Superior of Nunraw was asked to supply information regarding Br. Brendan’s few remaining years. Fr. Michael Sherry who was in charge of the newly established house during the early period wrote, “Br. Brendan Kelly looked after the hens when he came to Nunraw. Due to government post-war restrictions we could only keep thirty five birds. He also assisted the game-keeper, Peter Brown, to snare rabbits and to trap moles. In the summer of 1947 he helped to rear pheasant-chicks for those who had taken the shooting rights on the estate. Hawks gave trouble and seized some of the chicks. Br. Brendan surprised the game keeper by making his own trap to catch live raiders. This was a success. In the bad winter of 1946/47 Br. Brendan was frequently out, (poorly clad, I fear), and helped in cleaning 2,000 rabbits. These were sold for three shillings and six pence a couple. Not being on the weekly meat ration of one shilling, there was a great demand for them. In the Spring of 1948, it was evident that Br. Brendan had T.B. He then became a patient in the hospital of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at Kingussie in Inverness-shire. In 1949, he returned. Though not completely recovered the physicians prescribed that henceforth the patient should not take up residence in the monastery but in a specially constructed hut in the enclosure. At the close of the summer 1949 his health had definitely deteriorated. The superiors then had him removed to the monastic infirmary. Here on December 14, 1949, fortified by the last sacraments and surrounded by his brethren he fell asleep in the Lord. All through life Br. Brendan had an extraordinary admiration for and love of nature and God’s dumb creatures - flowers, the green fields, shrubs, trees, the blue skies, the ploughed fields, the changing season, animals, birds, butterflies and insects. During his stay in the hut a pheasant often came there and fed out of his hand. It appears that he had never, all through his last illness, told his family of his condition. Neither did he desire that anyone should write and make them aware of the state of his health. At his passing, the weather was arctic in Scotland. The journey from Ireland to Nunraw could not be made without danger and difficulty. The news of the death of Br. Brendan was first given to Mount St. Joseph. At once, the Abbot went to Laurencetown to tell the family and to sympathise with them. The father and the other members were greatly distressed. Being unaware of the illness, the shock at the news of his death and the fact that the obsequies had been concluded, added to the grief of his family. It must be added that his mother had gone to her reward some years previously. Br. Brendan at his passing was in the thirty ninth year of his life and the fifteenth of monastic profession. “Thou, O Lord, hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. VIII, 6).