Tuam and Westport
Br Hugh McKinney, late of Grove House, Vicar St, Tuam, Co Galway and formerly of the Christian Brothers Community, Newport Road, Westport, went to his eternal reward on December 14 in the gentle care of the staff of the Brampton Care Home, Oranmore, Co Galway. He was predeceased by his parents Hugh and Mary, his brothers John and Peter and his sister Bridie. Sympathy is extended to his sister Kathleen Traynor, Omagh, his nieces and nephews, friends and Christian Brothers in religion.
Br Hugh began his Primary teaching career in Limerick City in 1946, teaching there until 1955. He spent 10 years in Letterfrack before coming to Westport in 1971 as School Principal of the Primary school, a position he held for 21 years. “My years in Westport” he wrote, “were happy and contented, the teaching staff was excellent, the standard of learning achieved was most satisfying.”
During his time in Westport, Br McKinney formed great friendships with many throughout the community, particularly through his boat building expertise. There are still people in Westport and in its hinterland driving around with their little car-trailers in tow, courtesy of Br McKinney.
Life in Westport was carefree and he relished this period as the best in his lifetime. With Clew Bay outside his window, building a 19-foot cabin cruiser was an obvious project for Br Hugh McKinney. The evening he launched his boat at Westport Quay was a memorable one. Of course he was aided and abetted by all his helpers, benefactors and sailors who had sailed the high seas.
Br McKinney played a major part in overseeing the building and development of Rice College, particularly after the sudden death of Br Andy Walsh, together with an excellent committee drawn from the community, and so assisted in the provision of a centre of education in Westport, in which the community could be justly proud.
Br McKinney returned to Westport a number of times, once on the occasion of a farewell function by the Westport community in appreciation of the toil and dedication of the Christian Brothers to education in Westport from 1865 to 2006.
His second visit was on the occasion of the official opening of Scoil Phádraig on the site of the Christian Brothers’ schools on the Newport Road. It was both a heart-rending and satisfying occasion for him as he saw the fulfilment of the work of the Christian Brothers in Westport. Their work continues. On the occasion, Br McKinney was accompanied by his good friend Sr Geraldine Costello, former Principal of the Mercy Primary school.
Br McKinney, not being a man to rest on his laurels, eagerly accepted the invitation of Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, to be the Diocesan Education Secretary for the Tuam Archdiocese in the 1990s, a position he held until his well earned and richly deserved retirement.
The Archbishop in his address at Br Hugh’s funeral in Tuam cathedral, spoke warmly of the ‘monumental work’ done by him for the Archdiocese over the years.
Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe Diocese, who had worked in Education with Br Hugh in Tuam also attended the obsequies. Br Hugh McKinney was interred in his family’s plot in Killyclogher, Omagh, Co Tyrone. May he enjoy restful peace. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.