Fr Gearoid O’Donnchada, a priest in his 80s died in a house fire in Fenit, Co Kerry overnight.
The fire in was reported around 2am and three fire tenders attended the blaze. They brought the fire under control by about 4.30am.
Fr O’Donnchada, a retired lecturer, local historian and sociologist, was the driving force behind commemorations to do with St Brendan the Navigator, the 6th Century Kerry saint who is said to have sailed out of Fenit to discover America, over 800 years before Columbus set sail.
Tributes have been paid to the late priest.
Local Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, who lives in Fenit, said that “the parish of Fenit and the wider community are horrified at the tragic death of Fr O’Donnchada this morning”.
He said Fr O’Donnchada served his parish faithfully for many years and he had a deep affection for Fenit, carrying out a number of research projects into life in Kerry.
This affection was reciprocated by the people of the area towards him, Mr Ferris said.
Garda forensic investigators are carrying out a technical examination to determine the cause of the fire, however they are not treating the fire as suspicious.