KERRY publican Christy Kissane was a proud Irishman, whose death leaves behind a massive legacy amongst London’s Irish community.
The 69-year-old father-of-four died from a suspected heart attack on October 21, at his home in Dollis Hill, northwest London.
Mr Kissane was President of the Kerry Association London (KAL), and most recently attended the organisation’s annual dinner at the Clayton Crown Hotel in Cricklewood just five days before hie death.
He had also welcomed the birth of his first grandson in August, and attended the christening in Co. Kerry only a fortnight ago.
Mr Kissane first arrived in England in 1963, where he worked on building sites before becoming a publican. He owned The Kingdom pub in Kilburn, north west London, which was often frequented by Kerry’s GAA stars and the Sam Maguire Cup.
Long-time friend of Mr Kissane, Danny O’Sullivan, who is Chairman of the Danny Sullivan Group, paid an emotional tribute to the man who was “the backbone for the Kerry people in Kilburn.”
Speaking to The Irish Post, Mr O’Sullivan said: “I’d like to firstly extend my deepest sympathies to his family on both sides of the Irish Sea. It’s been 45 years since I came to England, and our friendship has grown from strength to strength ever since.
“We would ring each other every day. It’s going to take a lot to get over it. Christy is the most amazing Irish man that ever came to London; he’s the same to Kilburn as the Nelson Column is to O’Connell Street in Dublin. He was a true Kerryman, a true Irishman.”
His love for GAA also led him to take on the role as Chairman of Kingdom Kerry Gaels GFC in London.
Christy was a fantastic member of the GAA community, he’s never missed an All Ireland Final, except for one,” Mr O’Sullivan said. “He was [Vice] Chairman of Kingdom Kerry Gaels and was responsible for keeping the club going for years. It shows his dedication to GAA.”
The club issued a tribute to the man, who served as a player, team mentor and committee member, for his long-standing service.
“It is fair to say that the club will never be the same again, but will live on long in his memory,” said Kingdom Kerry Gaels coach Noel Dunning. “You were one of a kind Christy, and hopefully you're up there in Heaven's Croke Park watching Páidi and the other Kerry legends who went before you in action.”
For the first 10-15 years after he arrived in England, Mr Kissane was involved in building work on the London Underground for construction firm the Murphy Group.
He then moved away from the construction industry and purchased his first pub in the late 1970s, the Windsor Castle pub on Harrow Road in Maida Hill.
He later became the owner of the renowned Kingdom pub in Kilburn, which has welcomed many of Kerry GAA’s famous faces over the years.
“His death was sudden, it’s a big shock to the community in London,” said KAL Vice Chairman Sean Moriarty. “I was just in his bar recently and two words come to mind when thinking about Christy, ‘hero’ and ‘godfather’ of the Kerry community in London.
“He was a pillar of the community, he was known all the way in Buckingham Palace and had the charisma to carry himself and deal with both kings and paupers.”
Mr Kissane’s service to the Irish community in London led him to become a notable Kerry figurehead; a sentiment that those close to him believe he deserves.
“He was very approachable to those looking for help, he’d help at short notice without ever expecting anything in return,” Mr O’Sullivan added.
“I’m delighted to have known him, friends like him are hard to find.”
Kerry funeral arrangements:
Following a Funeral Mass in Kilburn, London yesterday, Mr Kissane's body will be reposing at Flynns Funeral Home, Tulligmore, Killorglin, Co. Kerry today from 2.30pm to 6pm with removal to St James’s Church, Killorglin for 7pm.
Requiem Mass at 10.30am tomorrow followed by burial immediately afterwards in Churchtown Cemetery, Beaufort.
Donations in lieu of flowers please to Recovery Haven, Kerry.