15 May 2018

Columban Fr Thomas Kilkenny RIP

Fr Thomas Kilkenny
(23 July 1922 - 7 May 2018)

Fr Thomas Kilkenny was born in Lecarrow, Carrowbehy, Castlerea, County Roscommon, Ireland, on 23 July 1922. He was educated at Gorthaganny National School, County Roscommon, and Summerhill College, Sligo. He came to St Columban's, Dalgan Park, in September 1940 and was ordained priest in December 1946.

Castlerea, County Roscommon [Wikipedia]

Father Tom was assigned to Japan in 1947 and apart from his vacations and a year or so working in Mindanao, Philippines, in the 1950s, he spent the next fifty-five years working there in a variety of pastoral assignments. His first assignment was to Oiso. This was followed by stints in Toshima, Tokyo, and a longer period in Katase, Kanagawa.

Christ the King Church, Choshi [Source]

Then he spent time in two Chiba parishes, in Choshi and then in Tateyama. In Kumamoto he taught in the Marist High School and then worked for eight years in Tamana. After that there were assignments in Kamugawa, Chiba, and Hakone, Kanagawa.

Hakone Tozan Railway [Wikipedia]

His last five years in Japan were spent in Tokyo, and after that, in 2003, he returned to Ireland where he lived in Cloontrasna, Castlerea, County Roscommon, not far from his birthplace. Father Tom valued his independence and reluctantly agreed to move to the Dalgan Nursing Home in December 2015 when he could no longer care adequately for his own needs.

Father Tom was a quiet, private person, a conscientious pastor who spoke excellent Japanese, and dedicated himself to the people in his many assignments. He chose to be buried close to his family in Gorthaganny Cemetery, Castlerea, County Roscommon.

May he rest in peace. 

In the last couple of years of his life Father Tom would often tell Fr Bernard Mulkerins about a blacksmith's forge that he loved to visit in his childhood days. He also loved poetry. The video above begins with the opening lines of The Village Blacksmith by Longfellow. The forge is only about an hour's drive from where Father Tom grew up.

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