THOUSANDS of pounds have been raised to bring the tragic London Irish Kelly twins back to their native Cork to lay them to rest with their father.
The brothers, estranged for many years, had no known next of kin and a major appeal to trace their family was launched.
The story made headlines in Ireland, was covered across several radio stations such as Cork’s 96FM, RedFM, and was featured on television as a bulletin on RTE News.
In response, a fund was set up by The Irish Post to cover funeral costs for the Kelly twins – with donations of £6,240 in total.
Some £3,240 was raised by readers of The Irish Post donating online; while the newspaper’s CEO Elgin Loane donated £1,000 and London Irish company O’Donovan Waste gave £2,000.
Bill Kelly died on January 29 in Whittington Hospital London and his friends in his local area in Muswell Hill began to trace his next of kin.
They discovered that his twin brother John was living in nearby Archway – but had sadly passed away in recent weeks.
The brothers then lay in separate morgues in London, as nobody knew where to find the reclusive twins’ family.
Next of kin comes forward
A breakthrough occurred when The Irish Post received a call from their paternal first cousin Seán Kelly.
Seán Kelly hopes to bring his cousins home to lay them to rest with their father Dennis in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork City.
“Dennis is buried in St Finbarr’s cemetery in the city here so [if we can] we’ll bury them here with him,” he said.
“If we can’t do that, we’ll bury them in our own cemetery up the road.”
Genealogy organisation Finders confirmed that Mr Kelly is the nephew of Dennis Kelly – making him a first cousin of Bill, John and their sister Mary, who passed away in Muswell Hill almost three years ago.
The twins were born to Dennis and Katherine (previously Hannah) Kelly on August 27, 1938.
After their father passed away in 1947, Mr Kelly said the family moved to London and kept in occasional contact with family at home over the years.
The last contact between the Cork Kellys and London Kellys came in 1992, when Bill wrote a letter to Mary Kelly (Seán’s mother) saying his brother and sister were “fine”.
But the twins became estranged over the years, despite living just two miles apart.
The Irish Post is also assisting Finders to make contact with further relatives who have come forward on their maternal side.
Frank Kilbride, an Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford based undertaker, has offered his services for free should the brothers be buried in Ireland.