Remembering Terry Kelly

Wicklow Lighthouse with rainbowThe recent death of Terry Kelly has greatly saddened us all. For me, Terry was first my boss, then my mentor, and ultimately a very dear friend. I count myself lucky to have known and worked with Terry. She had a way of bringing out the best in a person. She herself was a lady of great integrity and it was this, amongst her many other personal attributes, that helped Irish Landmark gain credibility and trust in the early days of its existence.

In 1992, at the request of Nick Robinson and Eddie McParland, Terry accepted the invitation to be part of setting up this organisation. She was Irish Landmark’s first Executive Director/CEO. I have no doubt that the success of Irish Landmark is due in no small part to the firm footing on which Terry set it.

After its incorporation in 1992 in the Republic of Ireland, Terry’s vision was that Irish Landmark should be an all-island organisation. This was achieved when, in 1996, Irish Landmark was incorporated in Belfast. Having earlier identified some of the iconic buildings (amongst them, Wicklow Lighthouse, Annes Grove Miniature Castle and Clomantagh Castle) that would form part of the initial portfolio, she then turned her attention to potential properties in Northern Ireland, and quickly added Ballealy Cottage and the Lightkeepers’ houses at Blackhead to the portfolio.

Not alone did she have a good eye for attractive, interesting and architecturally important stand alone properties, Terry also believed that Irish Landmark should seek to work with bodies such as Commissioners of Irish Lights in order to save the best of buildings that were an example of a way of life that was changing or becoming part of our history.

"Birch Tree" by Randi Hausken via Wikimedia Commons

“Birch Tree” by Randi Hausken via Wikimedia Commons

Her commitment to Ireland and its built heritage saw her persevere to convince potential funders (state, local and private) that Irish Landmark should be supported. One of her major successes, shortly before her retirement in 1999, was to convince the National Millennium Committee that Irish Landmark’s lightkeepers’ houses project was important to Ireland’s marine heritage. She succeeded in this, and so Irish Landmark was one of the five flagship projects of the Millennium Commmittee’s funding plan. All of us at Irish Landmark are very grateful for the time, commitment and energy she gave to us.

Terry will be missed: by her family, her friends and by all those whose lives she touched in so many different ways. May she rest in the peace she so richly deserves.

Mary O’Brien.