Linne Hall librarian John Killeen had ‘undeniable zest for life’, mourners said at funeral

Librarian John Killen was described as “utterly devoted to his family” and “unquestioned zest for life” as Requiem Mass was held on Wednesday for the father of four.


The 67-year-old former chief librarian of Belfast’s Linen Hall Library died on Sunday.

Mourners gathered as a service at St Macartan’s Church Lauffinisland, his home for so many years of his life.


Speaking to those gathered at the church, Parish Priest Father Ciaran Dallat noted Mr Killeen’s complete commitment to his family, his distinguished career, his love of Gaelic football, and a “lifelong passion” for education.

Tributes have been paid before for the author, who retired in 2015 after 37 years of service at the Belfast Library.


His first job was at the Central Library in Belfast and after studying at Queen’s University, he moved to Linne Hall in 1977 as Irish Reference Librarian.

Mr. Killeen said on his retirement: “Once you actually go through the doors of Linen Hall there’s a huge risk of being caught for the rest of your life. And I think that’s basically what I was.” “

Described as being “synonymous” with Lennon Hall, tributes to the man included author journalist and broadcaster, Eamon Mally, and SDLP legislator Matthew O’Toole.


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Pacemaker Press Belfast 01/05/2021 Family and friends during the funeral of John Killeen at St. Macartan’s Church in Lafinisland on Wednesday.

Mr Killeen died at home in Loughnisland, and is survived by his wife Marion and their children Emma, ​​Jonathan, Stephen and Orla.

“While at Queen’s University in Belfast, John married Marianne and they started their family together,” said Father Dalat.

“John was completely devoted to his family. To meet his grandchildren and spend so much time with those he loved.

“John joined the Linne Hall Library in 1977 and devoted 37 years of his professional life to that institution.

“He was instrumental in securing its existence for future generations and for the rest of his career and became synonymous with the library beyond his name. He told his family that his job was like work for him ever since. Not felt and he was known to approach it with passion and enthusiasm.

“His lectures, exhibitions and books have given him the opportunity to travel regularly to Ireland, England, America and beyond.

“He retired in 2015 with the sole intention of spending as much time as possible with his family, especially his grandchildren. In his post-retirement years, he kept a pocketbook of his photographs, which he displayed to the public at every opportunity. prepared for.”

Fr Dallat also mentioned Mr Killeen’s passion for the game, revealing that he “continued to play until the ripe old age of 42, when he finally and reluctantly admitted that his day was over”.

As a former player at Laufnisland GAC, a spokesman for the club described Mr Killeen as a “footballer, scholar, gentleman”.

“The Club President, Committee and Members are devastated to hear of the untimely death of our former player, secretary and Member John Killen. Deepest condolences to the entire Killeen family,” he said.

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Pacemaker Press Belfast 09-14-2012: John Killen, librarian of The Linen Hall Library, pictured with the first newspaper for the anniversary letter. Image by: Arthur Allison.

While the GAA department of Queen’s University also recognized his sporting achievements.

Father Dallat also said Mr Killeen enjoyed the trip with his family and described how he was “never happy” living on the ski slopes with his wife and children.

“John enjoyed the trip and considered himself very fortunate to have had many holidays with extended and immediate family,” said Father Dallat.

Mr Killeen was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer within only two years of his retirement.

The 67-year-old was described as facing his four-and-a-half years of extensive treatment with “patience and dignity”.

“He never complained and he showed the courage of Prerna the whole time,” said Father Dalat.

“John’s zest for life was undeniable, and it never wavered, even in his most difficult times.

“Although he was moved too soon, his loved ones find great comfort in the memories of him with him and the special role he played in each of their lives.

“Each night during their final months, John and Marion chose a holiday, family event, or a memory of an experience to keep their thoughts positive, to keep their thoughts positive. Tributes and support were received. The messages will help keep them going.”