Brendan Kearney, class '53
Fr. Brendan Kearney, S.J.
The Union was saddened to hear of the passing of Brendan Kearney, class '53
The death has occurred of Fr. Brendan KEARNEY SJ
Lower Lesson Street, Dublin
Kearney, Brendan, SJ February 24th 2014, Peacefully in the professional and compassionate care of the dedicated staff of Cherryfield Lodge Nursing Home, Ranelagh. Fr. Brendan SJ, late of the Jesuit House of Writers, Lower Leeson St. Dublin.
Deeply regretted by his loving sister, Ann, brother-in-law Michael, nieces and nephews, his circle of friends both in Ireland and California, and his Jesuit companions. Body donated to medical science.
Funeral Mass 12noon on Wednesday 26th in Milltown Park Chapel, Ranelagh, Dublin 6,
Date Published: Monday 24th February 2014 Date of Death: Monday 24th February 2014
The 1971 Chronicle reported:
A son of Mr. A.P. Kearney, Professor of Mathematics in the College, FATHER BRENDAN KEARNEY (1951-53) is a Jesuit stationed in Belvedere College. He showed his all round ability at school by winning the Bodkin Memorial Essay Prize in 1952 and the College Medal in Mathematics the following year. Having done his novitiate he attended University College, Dublin and obtained an Honours in Maths and Mathematical Physics. He then studied Philosophy and Theology with three or four years teaching in Belvedere placed in between. On the 10th July, 1968 he was ordained to the Priesthood and has been teaching in Belvedere ever since. His old school wishes him and his parents many years of health and happiness.
That love of Mathematics was to be a life long affair as referenced in an obituary published in the Irish Mathematics Teachers' Association, where Brendan was fondly remembered by his many friends in the IMTA reflecting his contribution to the Association over a period spanning 40 years, during which time his "sometimes quirky, witty and always erudite articles" appeared in the IMTA Newsletter. The appreciation recalls Brendan's significant contribution to the Leaving Certificate Maths syllabus - he provided background material on many topics and contributed solutions and comments to the higher level exam papers for many years. He also embraced new technologies from their inception into education, using the computer for his study of Euclidean numbers in 1974 and shortly afterwards outlining a case in support of the use of calculators in State Examinations. Brendan's humour was also highlighted. His trademark duck cartoons which appeared as illustrations in many of his articles portrayed ducks "in various expressions of puzzlement, questioning, disinterest and delight".
The association with Belvedere was also to be a life long affair save for a short sojourn in St. James Parish, Redondon Beach, California towards the end of his career.
Requiescat in Pace.
Fr Brendan Kearney died peacefully in Cherryfield Lodge on 24 February, aged 78. That word peacefully is important. He had not always known peace. Look at that face, much lived in, eloquent of love and suffering. It hides a remarkable brain, schooled in pure mathematics (Brendan would call it Math). Though he taught for many years, his passion was not for teaching Math, but for doing it. When he worked in the Dublin Institute of Technology, he was unafraid of whatever problems the engineers might throw at him. They would give him an excuse for working to a solution from first principles.
Brendan was a true intellectual; as a student of philosophy in Tullabeg he discovered Wittgenstein and Lonergan with an excitement that became all-absorbing, and almost unbalanced him. Yet he was essentially light-hearted, witty and quirky. In Belvedere he ran a thriving chess club, but guarded against any taint of professionalism by stipulating that members must be simply "of sound mind and pleasing disposition". His trademark of quacking ducks, at the end of his own letters or pupils’ exercises, was a sort of self-mockery – and maybe mockery of others’ pretensions, as in his painting of the Northern troubles, where the shoot-to-kill gang, lurking with their Kalashnikovs, have webbed feet and the balaclavaed heads of ducks.
Brendan was prodigal of his reflections. As a curate in a Californian parish towards the end of his life, he wrote (to his colleagues in Ireland and elsewhere) letter after letter, closely argued, about issues that had caught his attention in the week. His strong sense of the ridiculous must reflect the moods of his father, who contributed the hilarious “Dear Sean and Mammy” pieces to Dublin Opinion.
When Brendan’s close friend Hugh Duffy phoned the news of Brendan’s death to the presbytery in Redondo Beach, where he had worked for years, the secretary who took the call could barely contain her shock and grief: “We loved him so much”, she said. His strong face speaks of love and suffering. He had a deep spirituality, a passionate loyalty to his Jesuit vocation (“The only way I’ll ever leave the Jesuits is in a box” he once remarked); and he hoped for bás in Éireann. Writing from California about donating his body to the UCD Medical School, he quoted Goldsmith:
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,here to return and die at home at last.