Castleknock College Union

Fearghal O’Farrell, class '51

In Memoriam

Jan 12, 2014
Fearghal O’Farrell, class '51 -

The Union was saddened to hear of the passing of Fearghal O'Farrell, class '51.

The death has occurred of Fearghal O'FARRELL
Cabinteely, Dublin

O’FARRELL Fearghal, (Cabinteely/Blackrock) – January 12th 2014 (suddenly); darling husband of Mary, much loved father of Niamh, Oonagh and Aoife, cherished grandfather of Ruth and Peter, brother of the late Brenda (Joe), Fr. Diarmuid, Brigid (Mick) and brother-in-law of the late Roisin. Deeply missed by his loving wife, daughters, sons-in-law Tony and Charles, grandchildren, step-grandchildren Donna, Darrell and Laura and step-greatgrandson Jonah, dear sisters-in-law Sheila, Marice (Jack), Susan, brothers-in-law Eamonn and Noel, nieces and nephews of the McCabe, Caragher, Tanham, Boyle and Binchy families, relatives and friends.

Reposing at his home on Wednesday afternoon from 4pm to 8pm. Removal on Thursday morning to St. Brigid’s Church, Cabinteely arriving at 9.45am. Funeral immediately after 10am Requiem Mass to Redford Cemetery, Greystones. Cut flowers only please.

Date Published: Tuesday 14th January 2014                          Date of Death: Sunday 12th January 2014

Fearghal and his brother Diarmuid, class '48 arrived at Knock following in the footsteps of their father Joe, class '17, who himself was one of three Portarlington brothers at Knock. A third generation attended as Fearghal's sister Brigid also sent her son; Tom McCabe, class '83.

His father Joe was an engineer of note with the ESB and Fearghal didn't stray too far from that path as Architecture was his chosen profession.

The 1965 Chronicle reported: "The Irish Agricultural Institute, known as An Foras Taluntais in expanding its farm building research programme, has appointed Fearghal H. O'Farrell B.Arch. (1948-51), to its specialist team, which now consists of three architects, an engineer and an agricultural scientist. The objective of the expanded research programme is to build up a reservoir of scientific findings on design and construction so that the farmer may be advised how to build usefully and yet aesthetically. The increased number of livestock and the shortage of labour demands new types of building and self-feed systems. We welcome Fearghal back to Ireland after his period in London."

As an Architect he wrote three books on his research on farm dwellings, conversions and passive solar energy. Then, sculpture and watercolours, owned his spare time. In 1972 Dr. Ivor Browne opened his first one man exhibition in Dun Laoghaire, and later in that decade he exhibited in The Project Arts Centre. His last exhibition  in 2012 was of his watercolours that captured the changes in his home village of Cabinteely over the previous decades.

Like many others though, we best remember Fearghal for his icons which he started painting in 1990. It was to become his passion. He trained under Eva Vlavianos whom he exhibited with in Paris and over the years he kept up a lively correspondence with Sr. Aloysius McVeigh and  Sr. Paula Kiersey, both noted authorities in the field. He was founder Chairman of the Association of Iconographers of Ireland (1992) and went on to hold several exhibitions including Millennium exhibitions in Galway Cathedral and Derry Cathedral, and also showings in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. His work is to be found in several private collections as well of course in Churches throughout the land, and most notably from a Vincentian point of view at St. Peter's in Phibsboro. The 2000 Colloque has a wonderful overview of his thought process behind that work.

He also went on to pen a book on the subject, “Writing Icons”, and his passion shines through in this 2012 letter he wrote from hospital -

"I think I told you I couldn’t go to a recent paint-in in Booterstown because I had to see my cardiologist. Anyhow, I saw him and he took me in immediately to the new St Vincent’s Private Hospital. I think I’m an authority on hospitals now!

I was in there for a day or two (lovely room) when I rang Mary and asked her to bring in the icon I was working on and all the paints etc. So I set myself up and began painting very slowly as I was easily tired but it made hospital most interesting.

Mass was at eleven if you were up to the walk!

The reaction of the nursing catering and cleaning staff (forget about the consultants) was great. The room I was in faced into the Atrium and was darkish. The nurse in charge came in and said, “It’s very dark in here. How can you paint?” I just shrugged and said that’s the way it is. “Oh hold on,” she said. Within an hour I was transferred to a lovely room overlooking Elm Park golf course with great light"

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Mary, daughters Niamh, Oonagh and Aoife and to the wider extended family. May they take comfort in the fantastic artistic legacy that Fearghal has bequeathed to all.

Requiescat in Pace.