Our people

Mary's Meals Ireland Board

Reverend Fr Eamonn Kelly (Board Chair)

Fr Eamonn is the Administrator of Letterkenny Cathedral. He joined the priesthood later than some, after spending a number of years as a barman.

He is an active member of the Mary’s Meals Letterkenny supporters group, which works hard to raise awareness of and vital funds for our school feeding programmes.

The best aspect of Mary’s Meals, according to Fr Eamonn, is: “It’s accessible because the costs involved are so low and anyone can tell the story to a friend.

“Mary’s Meals sees each child as an individual, and is always striving to reach the next child who needs support.”

Fr Eamonn is originally from Frosses in County Donegal. He has had several books published, including a collection of short stories called Mercy at Work, with all money from its sale going to Mary’s Meals.

Patricia Friel (Executive Director and Company Secretary)

Before joining Mary’s Meals Ireland as Executive Director in January of 2020, Patricia was a Mary’s Meals volunteer in Donegal from 2013 and also served on the Irish board from 2018 to 2020

Patricia worked for Junior Achievement Ireland for 12 and a half years. Promoting STEM and enterprise education in primary and secondary schools in the border counties.

She spend six years working in Pramerica Systems Ireland, leading their Corporate Technology help desk.

Patricia still volunteers for Mary’s Meals but now in West Cavan, where she is married to Joseph. But she still remains a proud Donegal woman.

Fiona O’Brien

Fiona O’Brien is a best selling author of women’s fiction living in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to writing full time, Fiona was an award winning advertising copywriter, responsible for many press, radio, and television campaigns in both London and Dublin.

Fiona is secretary of her local parish pastoral council. She lives with her little dog Freddie, in Sandymount, where they enjoy a daily walk on the beach.



Padraig Keogh

Padráig has been heavily involved with Mary’s Meals Ireland from 2008 having met Magnus and his family in 1999. remains one of our most dedicated volunteers.

After leaving his role as an orthopaedic technician after 20 years, Padraig was keen to continue helping others in a meaningful way. 

He is a passionate spokesperson for our programmes because, he says: “I know Magnus and his family, who started this work, and I know their intentions are truly genuine and honourable.

“The fact that the cost to feed a child is kept so low just shows how determined they are to achieve as much good as possible with the donations entrusted to them.”

Padraig is originally from Dublin, but now lives in County Mayo with his wife, Elizabeth.

Paul Galvin

Paul retired from the Men's Fashion Business in 2017 after 40 years with Galvin Tullamore. 

He's had an interest in the Developing World for almost 20 years & has travelled at various times with the charities Goal & Self Help Africa to Calcutta, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia & Malawi. He is an active member of Mary's Meals Offaly since it was founded in May 2019. 

Paul feels that the motto FOOD+SCHOOL=HOPE sums up perfectly what it's all about to take this generation of Children out of the cycle of poverty for good.

Magnus McFarlane-Barrow

Magnus is the founder of Mary’s Meals. He has lived in Argyll, Scotland, since the age of nine and began his career as a fish farmer. However, when the Bosnian conflict was making headlines in the early 1990s, Magnus and his brother Fergus were moved to help.

He was named one of 2010's ‘Top 10 Heroes’ by broadcaster CNN and received an OBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours list. Magnus has also been awarded Honorary Degrees by the University of Stirling, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Hull.

Magnus is married to Julie, a trained nurse from Inverness. She became his co-driver on some of the first deliveries of aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1993, and has been devoted to the charity ever since. They live in Dalmally with their seven children.

Deirdre Rudden (Kenny)

Deirdre is a solicitor, not currently practicing. She started out in Mason Hayes and Curren and then spent 7 years in the property department of O'Donnell Sweeney. From there, Deirdre joined Seales Fagan Kenny solicitors as partner.

She has advised many start up charities including Community Cenacolo; Quantum Universal (Worldpriest); Almas (Children affected by AIDS and poverty worldwide) among others.

Deirdre was awarded a first class honours, Master’s Degree in Theology from Mater Dei ( DCU) in 2014, with the thesis theme, "On Charity and Justice, the writings of Benedict XVI and his contribution to Catholic Social Teaching."

Deirdre served as a board member of Trocaire from 2015 to 2018 and was a member of their IPAC committee. 

She also has extensive experience volunteering with asylum seekers and refugees with SPIRASI and Red Cross Ireland.

Jimmy Murphy

Jimmy is a member of the Mary's Meals Dublin supporter group. He is a chartered accountant and executive life coach.

He is a director and non-executive director to a number of entities in the private and public sectors.

He completed two terms as managing partner at Grant Thornton, the prominent professional services firm where he gained extensive experience as audit engagement partner on companies listed on the Irish, UK and US stock exchanges.

He has extensive experience in the area of corporate governance procedures and processes. He is a member of the Council of the Institute of Directors in Ireland, a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Coaching in Ireland.