The Burren Wildlife Symposium mourns the loss of:
Hugh M. McKenna, 1922-2004
Our great supporter and friend Hugh McKenna, from Seaside, Oregon passed away on May 12th, 2004 - just two days after the death of his great friend John MacNamara.
Hugh, and his wife Jane, were familiar and most popular visitors to the Burren, the Admiral's Rest and the Burren Wildlife Symposium for many, many years. Hugh was a diligent and conscientious researcher and scholar - he sought out each and every archaeological site mentioned on the maps and in the literature - on foot, on his bicycle and in his car. He made extensive lists of the flora he and Jane discovered on their travels, enabling him to compare data from many years of careful observations and discoveries. He spent time each year in Fanore, in order to study the shore of the Burren, and also inland in Carron, and on the Aran Islands. He also loved Kerry and West Cork, and there indulged one of his many, many interests - mountain-climbing. He kept a list of all the mountains he had climbed, from the American North-West to the more modest summits of Ireland's low hills, and smiled at our pride in our three thousand foot summits.
Kenny's bookshop in Galway was one of his favourite places, and he was a great user of the public library in Ennistymon. He was not all academic - he enjoyed a glass of Scotch now and then in Cassidy's pub in Carron.
Hugh had a great wit - often the import of his remarks would only become clear some time after he uttered them. He was a meticulous man in everything he did - his writing was minute and perfectly formed, his record-keeping was faultless, and his memory was razor-sharp.
Hugh was an accomplished writer and had a great command of words. He offered his advice to all Burren visitors "Leave only footprints - take only photographs". Even though he had no direct Irish connections, he took pride in learning and using the Irish language - notoriously difficult for a person accustomed to speaking only English. He aquired sufficient proficiency to joke in Irish - he used to say that his family motto was "Ná lean mé - tá mé ar strae" which means 'Don't follow me - I'm lost', and he had business cards printed in an old Irish font, showing the Irish version of his name - Aodh Mac Chionnath.
He wore his great knowledge and his advanced years very lightly, and was a wonderful companion. We will miss him and think of him often, and we offer Jane and the McKenna family our heart-felt sympathies.
The picture above was sent to me by Hugh some time ago, showing off his new bicycle, and the following is his obituary, written by Hugh himself, as published in his local newspaper in Seaside.
The picture below shows Hugh checking harebells by the roadside near Fanore Beach during the summer of 2003.
Hugh McKenna Hugh Michael McKenna, 82, of Seaside died Friday, May 12, 2004, at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland. Born April 1, 1922 in Astoria, he lived in Seaside most of his life and attended Seaside schools. He was a U.S. Navy veteran of the Pacific theater in World War II. He worked 40 years for Pacific Power in Seaside as a meter technician. He and his wife Jane, a Seaside native, raised four children and put them through Seaside schools. McKenna was active in community affairs, including 34 years with the Seaside Volunteer Fire Department, from which he retired as captain and training officer; four years as Seaside city councilman; eight years on the Seaside Budget Committee; 29 years service on Seaside Public Library board; two years Seaside police promotion board; 24 years on Union Health District board for Providence Seaside Hospital; several years on Sunset Empire transportation district board; Astoria Maritime Museum; and other county and city ad-hoc committees. He had been active in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. He was a 5-gallon blood donor. He was also a bagpiper, playing in Clatsop Scottish Pipe Band, then in Portland Scottish. An active member of Our Lady of Victory Catholic parish, he also was deeply involved in the ecumenical movement in Seaside. McKenna and Jane made many visits to Ireland, together and separetely. They had a wide circle of friends, many of them from other continents, whom they met and remet in their Irish visits. Some of these friends had visited them in their Seaside Home. In 26 visits there, he had become interested in the Burren region of County Clare where he made some archaeological finds relating to Stone Age and Bronze Age burial sites and helped discover rare wildflowers not previously known in that part of Ireland. His home in Ireland, where he had many friends, was Fanore in County Clare on the south side of Galway Bay. He met naturalists and archaeologists from all over the world in Ireland and kept up a detailed correspondence with them over the years. He was an author of books detailing his experiences: one on the Pacific war, another on his career in the utility industry, and a third relating to exploration of the Burren in Ireland. A prolific diarist, he detailed all of his travels in many journals. Copies of his books are in the Seaside Public Library. He is survived by his wife, Jane, in Seaside; son and daughter-in-law Hugh McKenna and Andrea Kennet of Smith Lake; daughter and son-in-law Maureen and Robert Pung of Gresham; Leo McKenna of North Bend, WA; and Daniel McKenna of Seaside; grandson Rob Pung of Gresham; granddaughter and grandson-in-law Michelle and Scott Johansen of North Bend, WA; great-granddaughters Samantha Baldwin and Brittney Hamilton of North Bend, WA; great-grandson Brandon Johansen of North Bend, WA.; brothers-in-law George Larfield of Seaside; Don Larfield of Moses Lake, WA; John and Inez Larfield, Seaside; Leo and Louise Larfield of Portland; and many friends around the world. Services were held Tuesday, May 25, at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Seaside. Memorials may be made to Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation c/o Hughes-Ransom Cremation & Mortuaries, 220 N. Holladay Dr., Seaside, OR, 97138.