The ‘Queen of Kelly Recovery’ lived a life of fun and laughter
BRAY and Kilmacanogue said a sad farewell to a wonderful woman last week, with the death of Bridget Kelly (née Fox), at the age of 93.
Bridget, who passed away peacefully at home, had a full and fun-filled life, lived with great energy, kindness and humour, and will not least be remembered for her annual bracing dip on the first day of the year for the Lions Club’s Bray Charities Sea Swim.
She was a part of the fundraising event every year from its founding in 1982, up until just a few years ago.
A native of Bray, Bridget was one of the founders of Kelly Recovery in Kilmacanogue.
She was born on Ardee Street, before moving to Dargan Street with her parents and siblings. She and her late husband Anthony (Tony) settled on Dargan Street, where they raised their two daughters and three sons.
She and Tony met when they were both campaigning for Fianna Fáil. They got married in St Peter’s Church, with a reception in the Fox’s Dargan Street home, before the couple went on honeymoon to Scotland.
Bridget was a champion swimmer and life-long member of Bray Swimming Club. She twice won the Frame Memorial Cup for the 950-metre harbour race.
She also won the Walsh cup for all the clubs of Ireland at about the same distance.
Bridget was renowned for the entertaining costumes she wore to the charity swim in Bray each New Year’s Day. On one occasion, Bridget and her late brother Sean dressed up as Mrs Doyle and Father Jack. She was the priest and he was the housekeeper! She raised a huge amount of money for charity during her years doing the New Year’s Day swim. She also went swimming in the sea each day after Mass all year round.
She was very active in the Red Cross and was on the winning team of the President’s Trophy in 1970. Hers was the first Wicklow team to win the All-Ireland competition.
Mrs Kelly was a long-standing member and chairperson of Bray Musical Society. Some of her favourite musicals were ‘The Bohemian Girl’ and ‘Where the Lark Sings’.
She won Tesco Mother of the Year nine years ago, collecting a year’s free shopping in Tesco, as well as the well-deserved title.
With no end to her talents, she was in The Star Ceili band with her brother Sean and a few others. She sang, danced and played the fiddle.
Speaking to the Bray People just after her 90th birthday, Mrs Kelly had some words of wisdom to share: ‘You might as well enjoy life when you’re in it, you might be gone tomorrow. I’ve had a good life and a good family and that’s all anyone wants.
‘Life is as it comes. I enjoy life and have plenty of laughs. If you can’t have a laugh, you’ve nothing.’
Bridget is survived by her loving daughters Eilís and Una, sons Eamon and Kevin, sister Betty and brother Willie, her children-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and members of her extended family, neighbours and friends. Mrs Kelly was pre-deceased by her husband Anthony and son Liam.
Her family members are eternally grateful to a team of carers, including Bridget’s daughter Una, who made it possible for her to remain at home. Her neighbours were also a great support, including Sheila Douglas and Gerard Clarke. Her family are also very grateful for the care of Dr John McManus.
Her funeral took place last Saturday at the Holy Redeemer before burial at St Peter’s Cemetery.
According to her wishes, Mrs Kelly was brought to the church and cemetery on the Kelly Recovery truck, reminiscent of the funeral of her late son, Liam, who died in 2014. When Liam founded the business in 1972 with one truck, the ‘office’ was Bridget’s kitchen, where she took the calls.
A large crowd attended the funeral to pay their respects to the family, and remember a legend of north County Wicklow.
The late Bridget Kelly.