AN IRISHMAN is appealing to the Irish community in London in a last-ditch attempt to track down his long lost uncle, who he has not seen in 60 years.
Patrick ‘Pilot’ Conway, 67, has been searching for his uncle Johnny Conway for 40 years — but has been hitting dead ends.
“I went over to the Irish centre in London and various other channels,” he told The Irish Post.
“I met several people who knew him over the years but the last I could find was that he was in London in the 1980s.”
Born on January 9, 1926, Johnny Conway grew up in the small town of Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny.
In the early 1940s, he left Ireland and moved to London, enlisting in the Royal Air Force after signing up in the North of Ireland.
He served during World War II and left the RAF after the war ended, picking up work as a movie extra soon after.
If he were alive today, Johnny Conway would be 90 years old.
His nephew believes that serving in the British military may have been a factor in choosing never to return home to Ireland.
“It was taboo at that time,” he said. “So you couldn’t really come back home and say I’m in the Air Force, it was the time of the Troubles.”
He was last seen in 1955 when he came back to Mooncoin for a brief visit.
“I remember him well,” said Mr Conway, who was six years old when he last saw his uncle. “He was dressed immaculately, he’d leather gloves on and a green coat.
“He stuck his head in our door and said he was off down to the pub and that was the last we saw of him; he went back to England then.”
In the late 1950s, Johnny’s mother passed away.
While the family dealt with her death, her missing son did not attend the funeral.
Mr Conway’s father Patrick — Johnny’s brother — flew to England to look for his brother and find out why he had not come home for the funeral but the family found no fresh information.
Patrick Conway passed away in 1960 and his wife Margaret, Mr Conway’s mother, in 1964.
At just 16 years of age, Mr Conway’s oldest sister was left with the daunting task of caring for her five siblings.
Losing both his parents at a young age prompted Mr Conway to search for his uncle but after hitting dead ends at both the RAF and MGM Studios, where Johnny worked, he is at a loss.
“He was on the making of two blockbusters made at the studio in 1951 and 1952, Quo Vadis and Ivanhoe,” Mr Conway said.
“His workmate Mickey O’Toole from Waterford, who worked with him on Ivanhoe told me before he died that he saw him in London in 1980.
“And he was well known in some pubs on the Holloway Road in London, The Nags Head and The Prince of Denmark.
“We’re prepared for any out- come, whether he’s dead or alive, we just want to know.”
Despite not having seen his family in 60 years, if Johnny is alive he would have six nieces and nephews and several great-nieces and nephews.
Mr Conway does not know whether his uncle had family of his own but he is determined to find out what happened to his father’s only brother.
“I’d just say to him ‘where have you been hiding all these years?’ if I met him,” he said.