Fr Charles Keogh, O.Carm. (1931 - 2012)

Given at the Funeral Mass celebrated in Whitefriar Street on October 30, 2012, by B. Murphy, O.Carm.

Fr. Charlie was born in Dublin. The family lived in Portland Place near the Five Lamps. Charlie was one of seven children. Dermot and Elizabeth died as babies, leaving Charlie, Paul, Harry and the twins, Lily and Kathleen. His parents were Charlie and Kathleen. The family moved to an unknown area of Dublin called North Crumlin where they almost froze to death. Soon they transferred to Larkhill Road in Whitehall which was to become their home. Charlie’s mother, Kathleen, died and his father Charlie married Rosaleen who was loved by the family. Charlie was apprenticed in the printing trade as a compositor with Brown and Nolan in Clonskeagh. At 17 years of age Charlie contracted tuberculosis and he spent a number of years in St. Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park. After his illness he returned to Brown and Nolan’s where they gave him the fullness of his apprenticeship. He was on full money – much to his delight.

Fr Charlie’s illness was a time of reflection and faith. He gained a gift which was to be his for the rest of his life – the gift of being quietly confident in the will of God. In his late 20’s Charlie joined the Carmelites. He began his studies at St. Mary’s College, Aberystwyth, Wales, then to Kinsale, Co. Cork, for his novitiate. After this he studied in Llandeilo, Wales, and Gort Muire, Dublin. After ordination he was assigned to Whitefriar Street where he felt at home. He really loved the city.

At Whitefriar Street Charlie loved the ministry and he became involved with the Boy’s Club. From 1969 to 1989 he was appointed Mission Procurator to fundraise for our Missions in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia), and he took to it with ease and enthusiasm. He organised concerts, bingo and car raffles but the jewel in the crown was Carmelite Travel. His holiday weeks in Ireland were very popular in the 1970’s. They are still remembered by many people. Fr. Peter Kehoe worked for Fr. Charlie in Carmelite Travel before joining the Order.

I once asked Fr. Charlie how he got into the fundraising and his reply was: ‘sure I was always good at making a few bob even as a young fella, I always had the price of the pictures during the week. I always did an assortment of odd jobs and errands’.

Fr. Charlie was a great believer in prayer as a way of bringing people to God. The Gospel today is from John 17 – ‘The Priestly Prayer of Jesus’. Jesus is praying for oneness for his disciples, oneness with the Father. Jesus prayed in a gentle spirit. Fr. Charlie had the same gentle spirit which he carried lightly. Fr. Charlie also had a great love for Our Lady – Mary the Mother of Jesus – to whom he had great devotion. He loved his trips to Lourdes. The pilgrimage to Lourdes was always made before his return to Florida after his summer break in Ireland. St. Thérèse of Lisieux was also loved by Charlie.

On a personal note, over the last four years or so I made friends with the daughter of one of Charlie’s cousins who had cancer. Her name was Geraldine. Geraldine always asked about Charlie and she came to see him here in Whitefriar Street – Fr. Charlie was happy to see her but he wasn’t well enough to follow through except in prayer. Fr. Charlie and I spoke about Geraldine a lot. When Geraldine died Fr. Charlie asked me for directions to her house. At the house all the relations gathered and it was a joy for me to see how many cousins and the families greeted him – he stayed only a short while as in his own words ‘I wasn’t able’. He left a presence of ease and confidence, his two great gifts, of a gentle spirit and a quiet confidence.