Not so much looking down as across..

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kevin Andrew Murray 1920 - 1980

Kevin Murray was born on November 30th 1920 to Kathleen and Patrick Murray in 63 Dublin Street Carlow. His father, Patrick, died when Kevin was only four. His mother Kathleen spent much of her time in England. Consequently Kevin was reared in the main by his wonderful sisters Biddy and Maureen. I never met my grandmother Kathleen nor indeed did my mother - to all intents and purposes Kevin was an orphan in his own home.
At sixteen he sat the Leaving Certificate and got top marks in the class. Having nothing better to do and lacking career advice, he repeated his Leaving Certificate the following year and again got top marks.
He served briefly and without distinction in the army reserves during the 'Emergency' (the Second World War) and upon escaping military life joined the newly formed Bord Na Mona - the semi state industrial company tasked with developing Ireland's bogs and harvesting the turf for industrial and domestic consumption. His job was to inspect privately owned bogs with a veiw to assessing their suitability for industrial harvesting. When petrol was scarce, which was most of time in the post war years, he would get up on his bike and would regularly cycle up to fifty miles a day over the Ox mountains to small blanket bogs lying on the Sligo Roscommon border.

He survived as an eligible - and at times a hell raising - bachelor for many years living elegantly in the Grand Hotel in Sligo which to this day stands on the Garvogue River that flows through the town. His carefree life came to crashing end when he met Lily McDonagh who at the time was engaged to another. They were married at 9.00 in the morning of 8th September 1950 and by lunchtime they were on a train to Dublin and on their way to their honeymoon in the Isle of Man. Kevin was never to step on a plane again.

Their first house was in Murrisk County Mayo. In early 1952 work brought them to Birr in County Offaly. The 'bog road' led them to Portumna later that year and eventually to head office in 1953. They bought a semi detached house in Churchtown, Dublin in the Spring of 1953. It was in this pleasant semi detached house they raised their family. Lily lives in the house to this day. I was born in July 1951, Catherine (Kate) was adopted at five months in November 1957. Lily and Kevin had gone to the orphanage to bring home a little boy but were capitvated by a little five month old girl who had lovely sad eyes. Kevin reckoned a daughter would be company for Lily in her old age. Tragically Kate died in February 2007 at the tender age of 48. But to the souind of the Angelus Bells Margaret was born three years later in August 1961. Karma, or what?

Kevin received a degree in Social Science in 1955 from UCD. His was the first group of evening students to graduate. Sadly this academic achievement did not lead to improved pay or conditions. It did however encourage him to pursue research and to lecture by night with the College of Industrial Relations (now the National College of Ireland).

He was extremely well read on matters of religion, sociology, industrial relations, and psychology. His private library was one of the best domestic collections in Dublin in the mid fifties.

His letters were masterpieces and his handwriting immaculate.
He suffered not from having too few talents but from having too many.
He did however lack the 'political' instincts to rise up the ranks of a big firm and so he languished in a job that did not make use of his many talents.

He suffered a massive stroke and heart attack one night in late September 1971. It took three crucial days to work out the double diagnoses. He underwent a number of operations to remove the damaged parts of the brain. He was not expected to survive the operations or even less to ever walk or talk again. Amazingly he did both. His GP called him the 'miracle patient'. Slowly over a period of many years he regained much but not all of what he once had been. Some of him died the night of his massive stroke.

To give his employers full credit they found him a job of sorts and he continued working until the 9th of January 1980. His friend brought him from work to a shop near home. As he was leaving the shop he collapsed and never recovered consciousness. His last purchase was a bar of chocolate for his daughter Margaret. His last three cheques had been made out to charities.

Lily often asked him 'Kevin, we have little or no money, why do you give so much to charity' His response was always the same 'Ah Lily, the rich, they cannot afford it' Lily does not claim the same sanctity but she has often remarked 'you never miss what you give to charity'.

Kevin lies in a well tended grave in Deans Grange Cemetery.
The gravestone and the blog will stand to the memory of Kevin Andrew Murray.
Here's to you Dad. We shall never forget.

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