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O'KELLY, JOSEPH (1832–1883), geologist, born in Dublin on 31 Oct. 1832, was the second son of Matthias Joseph O'Kelly, who had married Margaret Shannon. His father was noted for a love of natural history, especially of conchology, and yet more for his activity in the cause of catholic emancipation Joseph O'Kelly entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1848, proceeded B.A. in 1852, and M,A. in 1860. He also obtained a diploma in engineering. After working for a few years under Sir Richard John Griffith [q. v.] he was appointed to a post on the Geologic Survey of Ireland in 1854. In this capacity he was chiefly occupied in the field with the district around Cork, the igneous rocks of Limerick, and the coal fields of Queen's County and Tipperary, investigating the last named, with the aid of colleagues, in great detail. But the work involved real hardships, such as exposure to stormy weather and accommodation worse than humble. By these O'Kelly's health was seriously impaired, so that, after working for a time in Galway, he was transferred, in October 1665, to the post of secretary to the Survey. In his new office his services were of great value, not only for his extensive knowledge of Irish geology, but also from his straightforward honesty and genial disposition, which enabled him to diminish friction and to promote cordial co-operation in official circles.

His health proved to be permanently injured, and he died of acute bronchitis on 13 April 1883. His contributions to the literature of geology, practically restricted to the memoirs published by the Survey, indicate his powers and his thoroughness as a geological observer. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy early in 1866, and married in 1870 Miss Dorothea Smyth, by whom he had a family of five sons and four daughters; these all survived him.

[Obituary notice in Geological Magazine, 1883, p. 288, and information from Mrs. O'Reilly and friends.]

T. G. B.