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A Colourful Irish-Canadian, Dies at the Age of 76

Walter O'Keeffe, one of BC's most colourful Irish-Canadian, has died at the age of 76.

Born in County Killkenny, Ireland, O'Keeffe will be remembered for the brilliance that resonated through the hundreds of carvings, poems and pieces of music he created over the past 40 years.

O'Keeffe immigrated to Canada in 1956 and lived just long enough to see the success of a book based on his early years in Ireland take hold.

The book, titled Those Who Trespass Against Us is a disturbing look at the suffering and abuse O'Keeffe endured at the hands of those charged with his care in Ireland between 1939 - 1946.

The book was released March 17, 2007, and Walter O'Keeffe passed away April 21, 2007 due to complications from pneumonia.

O'Keeffe was a well known and prolific artist, poet, musician and wood carver in B.C. His work had been showcased in numerous publications, on television and various exhibits.

His love for Ireland and the natural world was woven into all of his artistic creations including over 300 carvings, most of which had a strong Celtic feel and connection to the environment.

According to O'Keeffe's daughter and the author of Those Who Trespass Against Us, her father was thrilled that his story had been released and was being well received. "In the days and weeks leading up to his death individuals from around the world had contacted my Dad to let him know that they had been positively impacted and inspired by the tragic tale of his early years.

"In particular, three individuals who like my father, had grown up in Ireland's Industrial school system contacted him as they were so thankful that in telling his story, their story had also been told."

Those who Trespass Against Us in now available in book stores and on-line through Trafford publishing and other on-line book sellers.

A private ceremony of remembrance was held at O'Keeffe's long-time home in Surrey B.C. O'Keeffe's seven children and 15 grandchildren, will take him home to Ireland next spring where his ashes will be spread on the River Suir.

For more information, e-mail Toni O'Keeffe at: angelink@shaw.ca, or call (250) 954-1055.

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