Irish sculptor and designer. He was born in Dublin, where he studied modern languages at Trinity College, 1933–7. In 1937 a scholarship took him to Frankfurt, where he became interested in German Expressionism, particularly the sculpture of Barlach. After returning to Ireland he studied at evening classes at the National College of Art, Dublin, and Waterford School of Art, and also worked briefly with Henry Moore in England. From 1946 to 1964 he taught at St Columba's, Rathfarnham, near Dublin. Kelly was probably the best-known and most prolific Irish sculptor of his time. He worked in a variety of materials, including bronze, copper, and wood, and he produced a wide range of work, including portrait busts, statues, and figures of animals and birds. Above all, he was a leading exponent of church art; good examples of his work in this field are the façade carving of The Last Supper (completed 1966) and the font at St Theresa's Church, Sion Mills, County Tyrone. His style, combining traditional Irish elements with mild Expressionist distortion, was influential on several younger Irish artists, notably the painter and stained-glass designer Patrick Pye (1929–), who studied under Kelly at Rathfarnham, and the sculptor John Behan (1938–).
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.