The tight-knit community of Kiltegan offered a fitting send-off on his retirement to Rev Robert Jones, who has made a huge impact on the village since his arrival in 2018.
Eve Jones played a key role in securing the purchase of a derelict building within the village center which will be refurbished and a multifunctional space created on the site, including a new home to The Hub community cafe.
Rev. Jones replaced Rev. Canon Stella Durand upon her retirement in September of 2018. Rev. Jones attended Disraeli’s National School and Kilkenny College. While he initially studied retail management, he began training for the ministry in 1975 by attending Chichester Theological College. He then completed his studies at Trinity College, Dublin.
He was ordained in 1980 and was curate of Seapatrick Parish, Bainbridge and Bangor Abbey before being appointed rector of Rathfreeland and Ballyward in Co Down. He later moved from the Diocese of Down and Dromore to the Diocese of Connor, where he served in the parish of Finaghy and with All Saints Craigie Hill in the parish of Cairncastle.
In 1998, Rev Jones moved to the Diocese of Athlone and Meath and Kildare and, four years later, was appointed Dean of Clonmacnoise and Rector of the Trim Cathedral Group of Parishs. He returned to the Connor Diocese in 2012 when he became rector of Malone Parish, Belfast.
Paula Boland, secretary of the Kiltegan Community Network, said: “Rev Jones is originally from Rathvili and took up his position here in Kiltegan in 2018. He made a huge impact on the community from the start. In our dream of achieving a community center he Totally involved and he came straight on board.
“He was also the brain behind the tractor run organized for the first time in 2021. He came up with the idea earlier that year and approached several groups with the idea. The idea was to give back to the ad and raise some money for charity. The first two beneficiaries were the Baltinglass Hospital and the Lalor Centre.
“The tractor run held last year raised funds for Talking to Tom, a charity based in Gorey that provides services to anyone with mental health issues. It also provided some of the fundraising for the community centre. Previously we held a presentation night for Rev. Jones, but he promised to keep in touch, and we hope to see him at the next tractor run that we will be attending. He will be greatly missed.
The Kiltegan Community Network was awarded €50,000 just before Christmas which will go towards the design and planning of the proposed community centre. There is a public meeting at St Peter’s Parish Center on Sunday, 29 January at 7pm to update the local community on the progress being made.
Paula said: “It takes a long time to get everything going and we wanted to get the views of the local community so it meets their needs.”