A promising defender for Norwood in 1895, Patrick Kelly served for 34 years as a popular parish priest on the West Coast and was honoured by his appointment in 1938 as Venerable Archdeacon of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.
He came to Norwood at a testing time. Half a dozen of the 1894 premiership team had left for the mines in WA and Broken Hill. Among the new players were Pat Kelly from Christian Brothers’ College, Alec Trott from Way College and Bert Carroll from West Adelaide. ‘Goalpost’ in the Adelaide Observer said: “Kelly, Trott and Carroll are all light, sturdy, sprightly men, and great things are expected of them.”
They began well with a 7.8 to 1.3 win over the Natives, a new team. Pat defended strongly in the 9.9 to 4.8 defeat of Port Adelaide. He was named in the best players when Norwood went down to its nemesis, South Adelaide, 5.8 to 1.4. He made the best players again in his final match, in which South clinched the premiership with its third victory over second-placed Norwood, strolling home 9.8 to 3.2. Pat played at least seven regular games and also toured with the Norwood team which defeated Essendon, drew with Collingwood and lost narrowly to Melbourne.
Pat was born at Mount Rufus on 30 June 1873, the third son of farmer Patrick Kelly and his wife Eleanor, née Brady, who had moved with their growing family to the Mintaro district from Edwardstown. Pat had four brothers and four sisters. He was a boarder at CBC with near-neighbour and budding poet C.J. Dennis.
Pat matriculated with honours at the University of Adelaide and spent a year as an assistant teacher at CBC before entering the Government Survey Department. He made many expeditions into the Outback on survey of pastoral leases. At Innamincka in 1896 he and his cousin, future surveyor-general James McNamara,fixed on the map Burke’s Tree, gravesite of the explorer Robert O’Hara Burke who perished in 1861.
Pat changed careers and entered St Patrick’s College, Manly, NSW, where in 1902 he was ordained to the priesthood. After a year in Adelaide, Father Kelly was sent to Port Lincoln, where he succeeded the Danish convert Father Peder Jorgensen in charge of a vast parish which at the time included most of Eyre Peninsula. Many of his missionary journeys were on horseback or with his four-in-hand, sometimes taking him as far as Eucla on the WA border.
He took a deep interest in the growing town of Port Lincoln, where he played a farewell game of football and liked to relax at the races. He was a foundation member of the high school council and the town institute. When he left in 1937 to take up less arduous duties as priest in charge of the Brighton parish, a large crowd gathered at the wharf to bid him farewell.
He celebrated his new posting and revisited the past by saying Mass at St Ann’s, Marion. Before the church was built, Mass was said at the house of Martin Kelly, whose brother Jeremiah was Pat Kelly’s grandfather. Archdeacon Patrick Kelly was 70 when he died at Brighton on 21 October 1943
P Robins, D Cox, G Adams June 2020
* For the picture we thank family historian Felicity O’Neil