Former Kerry football star Canon Jackie McKenna dies

The death has occurred of Canon Jackie McKenna, an accomplished and decorated Gaelic footballer, who was one of the best-known priests in the Kerry and Cork region.

He passed away on Tuesday, at the age of 93, at Our Lady of Fatima Home in Tralee.

Born in the Kerry fishing town of Dingle, Canon McKenna is widely regarded as one of the greatest players to represent the club at every level. He won five Kerry championship medals and his brilliant performances in the 1943 and 1944 senior deciders are still talked about in local GAA circles.

He was part of a star-studded Dingle line-up, including Paddy Bawn Brosnan, Tom Gega O’Connor, Gerald Teahan, Bill Dillon and Batt Garvey, remembered as one of the greatest club teams in Kerry football history.

Following his ordination Canon McKenna served as a curate in the Kerry parishes of Abbeydorney, Dingle and Ballyferriter and as chaplain to Coláiste Íde in Dingle.

He later became parish priest in Sneem, where he served for many years, before being transferred to Castletownbere, Co Cork, which is part of the sprawling Kerry diocese.

During his time in Sneem, Canon McKenna was the chief celebrant at the 1978 State funeral of former president of Ireland Cearbhaill Ó Dáilaigh who is buried in the village.

The canon was also the principal celebrant at a memorial Mass in Dingle for Charles J Haughey which was organised by local fishermen as a gesture of thanksgiving for what the former taoiseach had done for the Kerry town.

“He helped bring about major improvements to the harbour area, pier and marina and people here are very grateful to him for that,” Canon McKenna said at the time.

Canon McKenna, who was predeceased by his four brothers and two sisters, will be laid to rest in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, Dingle, tomorrow following Requiem Mass in the adjacent church at 3pm.

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