A DONEGAL woman who was one of the first female members of An Garda Síochána 61 years ago has sadly passed away.

Tributes have been paid to Kathleen Kelly, who slipped to her eternal rest last night at the Donegal Hospice.

Last July, Garda Kelly, née McFadden originally from Gaoth Dobhair and late  of 6 Hawthorn Heights Letterkenny, was honoured on the 60th anniversary of her joining the force.

Garda Kathleen McFadden. Photo: Garda Síochána Donegal

Kathleen was one of 12 females, selected from 178 applicants, to undergo a six-week training programme at the Phoenix Park depot.

The pioneering dozen were allocated to Pearse Street Garda Station.

Kathleen’s trailblazing policing career led her to meet her husband, retired Chief Superintendent Tim Kelly. Together, they had five children.

Last summer, senior Donegal Gardaí – including Inspector Shaun Grant, Sergeant Elaine Gordon and Gardaí Martina Fowley and Grainne Doherty – visited Kathleen at home to make a special presentation and pay tribute to the precedent she set.

There are now over 3,000 female members of An Garda Síochana with females accounting for over 20 per cent of the force.

Due to current Government & HSE guidelines, Kathleen’s wake, funeral and burial is strictly private to family.

A private funeral mass will take place in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny on Monday, April 27th at 12 noon. The mass will be streamed live and can be viewed on https://www.steunanscathedral.ie/

Kathleen Kelly honoured on 60th Anniversary of Women Joining An Garda Síochána. Photo: Garda Síochána Donegal