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A Biography of Bishop Kelly

Born in Derrybrien in the parish of Ballinakill, Co. Galway on 20 May 1946 to Sean and Annie Kelly, Bishop Brendan was the second of nine children.

He attended Craughwell National School and subsequently boarded at St Mary's Diocesan College in Galway City.

Following the completion of his Leaving Certificate in 1964 he applied to and was accepted by the then bishop, Michael Brown, to study for diocesan priesthood in the Galway Diocese. He was sent to St Patrick's College, Maynooth in September of that year.

As a seminarian Bishop Brendan completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967 and a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1970.

He was ordained to the priesthood on 20 June 1971 by Bishop Brown in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, Galway.

His first appointment was to the parish of Kinvara as a curate before being appointed to the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Salthill in 1972, completing a Higher Diploma in Education in the then UCG (now NUI, Galway) in 1973.

Bishop Brendan remained on the staff of Coláiste Éinde until 1980 when he was transferred to the teaching staff of Our Lady’s College, Gort, becoming President in 1986.

Following the 1995 amalgamation of the three Gort secondary schools, Bishop Brendan applied for and was granted sabbatical leave from his diocese for one year and went to live with the L’Arche Community at Cuise-la-Motte in France. Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, the worldwide L’Arche movement seeks to create inclusive, creative and caring families where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work in friendship, joy and mutual respect.

Returning to his diocese in 1996, Bishop Brendan was appointed by Bishop James McLoughlin as Parish Priest of Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare and subsequently as Parish Priest of An Spidéal in 2003.

On 20 November 2007, Bishop Brendan was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Achonry, succeeding recently retired Bishop Thomas Flynn, and on 27 January 2008 he was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.

On 11 December 2017, Pope Francis named Bishop Brendan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, succeeding Bishop Martin Drennan who retired in July 2016.

It is planned that the Installation Ceremony will take place in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway on 11 February 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.


Bishop Brendan’s episcopal motto is ‘De réir d’fhocail’ (‘according to your word’ - Lk 1:38).

Bishop Brendan:

  • speaks Irish fluently and has a working knowledge of French
  • was a member of the Standing Committee of the Irish Episcopal Conference for six years
  • is a member of the Council of the Liturgy
  • is a member of An Coiste Comhairleach um Liotúirge i nGaeilge
  • is a member of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education and Formation
  • is Chairman of the Bishops’ Council for Education
  • is a member of the Council for the West