PATRICK Joseph Kavanagh, writer, poet, columnist, actor, broadcaster and former soldier, has died at the age of 84.
He was born in Worthing, Sussex, the son of Ted Kavanagh and Agnes O’Keefe.
Ted Kavanagh, whose family were originally from Co. Carlow, was the writer of the immensely popular BBC war-time radio series It’s That Man Again (ITMA).
The young Patrick Kavanagh attended convent school in Barnes before being sent to Douai, a Benedictine public school in Berkshire. He considered becoming a monk, but decided “he liked girls too much”. However, he remained a lifelong Mass-goer.
In the 1950s Kavanagh was called up for National Service in Britain. He was commissioned into the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in the North of Ireland and on the outbreak of the Korean War, volunteered to go to the East, transferring to the Royal Ulster Rifles. He was wounded in the fighting, almost being killed in one military engagement.
On his return to civilian life he went to Merton College, Oxford, and thereafter pursued a writing, acting and broadcasting career. He co-presented the satirical BBC series Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life alongside David Frost and Willie Rushton.
Latterly his acting career included a cameo appearance in Father Ted, where he played the part of Nazi-memorabilia-collecting Father Seamus Fitzpatrick in the episode Are You Right There, Father Ted?
After this appearance he said that he was inundated with offers of work playing Irish priests.
Kavanagh used the name PJ Kavanagh professionally to distinguish himself from the poet Patrick Kavanagh. He recounted that he had met the Monaghan poet on two occasions, but the only words that the more famous writer had said to him were, “Why don’t you change your f*ckin’ name?”
PJ's writing included poetry, novels and the award-winning memoir The Perfect Stranger — which stemmed from his first wife’s sudden and untimely death. He also wrote the literary companion Voices in Ireland, and was a columnist and travel writer.
PJ Kavanagh never lived in Ireland, but confessed in an interview on RTÉ last year that he always felt a foreigner in England because he was Irish.
Patrick Joseph Kavanagh died on August 26 in Gloucestershire, aged 84. He is survived by his second wife Kate and two sons.