Mr Kenneth Kirby

MR Robert James Kenneth Kirby, who has died aged 90, was one of an increasingly rare breed.

He lived and worked his entire life all within 200 yards of where he was born — with one notable exception when he spent four years in New Zealand.

He was born in Ballykinlar in 1927. Predeceased by his parents, John Robert (Bob) and May Dorothy, his sister, Edith, his wife, Netta, his elder daughter, Joan, and by all his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, he was the last of a generation.

He is survived by his son, Paul, and daughter-in-law Margaret, daughter Dorothy, son Alan and daughter-in-law Ruth as well as by his six grandsons, Andrew (in New Zealand) Thomas, Joseph, Jonathan, Christopher and Matthew. 

He is also well remembered by the Wright family of John, Pamela, Judith and Donald, originally from Dundonald but now scattered from here to England and San Francisco, and by the mammoth Malthus clan in New Zealand.

He had a quiet early life in Ballykinlar, attending the local primary school, before moving on to Down High School and then for two years as a boarder to Campbell College, which was then located in Portrush because of the Second World War.

He had a stint at Queen’s University studying engineering but decided instead to go and work for a bank in New Zealand.

He met his wife, Netta, when both worked for the same branch in Wellington and they came to Northern Ireland as newlyweds in the early Fifties to try helping in the family grocery store in Ballykinlar as a trial.

They never left. A sub Post Office was added to the business in 1956 and they also extended the store a few times before they finally retired in 1990.

Kenneth’s many interests included walking in the Mournes or along the sands at Tyrella, swimming,  fishing and travelling.

He was a dedicated member of the select vestry of Tyrella Parish Church as well as being a lifelong member of Dundrum Masonic Lodge.

He joined the Masons at the age of 21 and regularly attended meetings until failing health prevented this just a year ago.

Although always lean, he was a man who liked his food. 

After a fall early last year, he insisted on having his breakfast before calling the ambulance because by that time he had learnt how long you had to wait in A and E — and that you never got fed there.

He will be sadly missed by all his family.