“I’m Sad The Next Generation Won’t Have ‘Granda Bill’. That’s What Upsets Me Most”

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Fiona Kirby 1

Fiona Kirby of Kirby’s Brogue Inn – “There are so many families like us in Tralee and Kerry who are going through what we’ve gone through.”

Fiona Kirby of Kirby’s Brogue Inn speaks to us about her father Bill’s death and a special fundraiser they are hosting to highlight an issue close to her heart…

A SPECIAL fundraiser will take place at the Brogue Inn next week and one which will have special resonance for the Kirby family.

‘The Restaurant’ night will be in aid of Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre, where two well-known celebrity chefs from the GAA world will try to outdo each other to impress diners and the judges, Pat Spillane, Paul Treyvaud and Melanie Harty.

Fiona Kirby of Kirby’s Brogue Inn sat down with TraleeToday.ie on Monday, to talk about how her family was affected almost seven years ago when her father, Bill, died by suicide.

Bill Kirby was known all over the country as a generous giant of the hospitality world and a great man for raising money for charitable causes.

“We’re doing the The Restaurant because dad will be dead seven years on May 8 and with Pieta House opening in Tralee recently, I just felt it would be nice to do something for them. For me personally, the time was right,” she explained.

“Our lives changed forever that day. The sad part is that there are so many families like us in Tralee and Kerry who are going through what we’ve gone through,” said Fiona.

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She spoke about the heartbreak of that day in 2008, but also of the support they received afterwards.

“Dad went away on a journey one day and the following morning the alarm was raised. We went down [to Rossbeigh] and myself and my sisters found him on the beach and we were able to bring him home to my mother, which was so important. I felt that he was waiting for his girls to bring him back.”

“The outpouring of grief from the people of the town and surrounds was unreal because he was so loved  by people and such a big character,” said Fiona.

With all the emotions around that time, was she angry that this had happened?

“I think with suicide and someone taking their own lives, it’s a moment of madness and they’re in that moment. It’s something that just happens. I think at the start I was angry because you have all these questions like ‘why’ but you’re never going to get those answers. I’m not angry because what I have is the memories of him; the fun, the advice and everything he did for us as a family. He had a great joy of living and was a great giver of his time to people. I’m sad that the next generation won’t have ‘Granda Bill’. That’s what upsets me more than anything.”

“In time you get a sense of acceptance, because life goes on. You have to get up in the morning and carry all the good things with you,” she said.

The family faced further hurt in the months after Bill’s death, when it came for the inquest to be heard. Fiona believes that media coverage of these inquests can cause unnecessary hurt to families, by bringing up all the details again into the public domain.

“The local media was very understanding in the aftermath of dad’s death, but some months later the inquest took place. All inquests for suicide are in the public arena and there were reporters present.

But for me, I don’t think there was any requirement whatsoever for a reporter to be present, because it’s bringing up all those memories of the time you found your loved one. It’s bringing it up with strangers who have the right to print the details but I have a huge issue with that.”

“I think inquests should be held privately, I don’t think there’s any need for a member of the public to be at them and, in particular, a court reporter, to bring up what happened in fine detail. The inquest to me was a private matter and didn’t need to go into the public domain.”

The Brogue ceased trading in April 2013 which was a sad time for the family, but it wasn’t long before it reopened again in July last year to great local support.

“It was a shame coming down the Rock with the door closed. For me it was important to get the Brogue opened again for dad and for mom as well, with the work they put in all their lives. Kevin and I are very proud to keep the tradition going here,” said Fiona.

Of course, Fiona and Kevin are carrying on Bill’s other tradition of helping out local charities.

“He was a great man to support all the local charities, the Cancer Society being one of his main ones, but also to people coming for support in terms of spot prizes and such which is very important,” said Fiona.

She is hoping people come out and support the restaurant night next week as she feels Pieta House does vital work.

“You could meet someone today and unknown to you they could be in turmoil. If you take that minute to say ‘how are you’, ‘are you alright’ it could make a difference. With organisations like Pieta House and Console, that’s why they’re there to help. It’s important that people use them. They’re at the end of the phone or in the centre in Tralee or Castleisland.

“It’s ok not to be ok. Some people still surround the suicide issue with a stigma and there’s no reason for anyone to be embarrassed that if they’re not feeling well themselves or if they’ve lost someone to suicide there are people there to help. The more we talk, the easier it will get.”

‘The Restaurant’, which takes place on Wednesday, April 29, will feature two Four-Course Menus chosen and cooked by the two celebrity chefs, while the audience will enjoy bubbly on arrival and wine with their meal.

Tickets for The Restaurant are €60 each and must be pre-booked through Fiona at Kirby’s Brogue Inn on 066-7181998 or Margaret Brick on 086-2408237.

It should be a fantastic night where Bill’s spirit of great hospitality will be evident.

“The night isn’t in his memory, but he’ll be with me by my side for the whole night. He’s with me every day,” said Fiona.


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