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Tragic fate of Kelly twins avoided as Irish community comes to the rescue

Seán Kelly, the Kelly twins' first cousin, contacted The Irish Post. Here he is pictured holding a letter sent by Bill Kelly to his mother in 1992, the last contact the family had with their cousin. Picture courtesy of RTÉ
Seán Kelly, the Kelly twins’ first cousin, contacted The Irish Post. Here he is pictured holding a letter sent by Bill Kelly to his mother in 1992, the last contact the family had with their cousin. Picture courtesy of RTÉ

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 Irish Post reported earlier this week about the 77-year-old twins, who died within weeks of each other in separate parts of North London.

The brothers, estranged for many years, had no known next of kin and a major appeal to trace their family was launched.

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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.

Nine NewsTwo elderly twin brothers who died within days of each other in London, are to be buried with their next-of-kin in Cork following a successful public appeal

Posted by RTÉ News on Déardaoin, 18 Feabhra 2016

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James Mulhall
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James Mulhall is a reporter with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @JamzMulhall

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6 comments on “Tragic fate of Kelly twins avoided as Irish community comes to the rescue”

  1. Ossie John

    Thanks James for your lovely yet sad heartbreaking story of our expat's to which I am one. Great to read of the selfless commitment of one and all in trying to locate their family plus somehow finding the $$ to bring them home amongst their own.

    No matter where we lay our heads, we are not alone or forgotten!

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  2. Ossie John

    Thanks James for your sad yet heartbreaking story about our expats to which I am one. Great to read of the commitment of one and all in locating family members plus somehow finding the money to bring them home among their own.

    It's a comfort knowing no matter we lay our heads we are not alone or forgotten!

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  3. Boston USA

    A very sad story. The Irish Post did a good job in publicizing this..

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  4. Boston USA

    The Irish Post Should be congratulated for it's continuing efforts to promote the well being and advancement of Irish people. Here in the USA, the vast Irish-American community lacks a strong newspaper voice. The Echo is just a shadow of it's former self. The Voice is just a platform to promote it's owners. The majority of Irish-Americans don't even read those publications. A far cry from the Irish World newspaper out of NYC that existed up until 1985. I very much enjoy reading the Irish Post. Keep up the good work.

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  5. Valerie

    What is the news on the Kelly twins? When & where are they to be buried ? No follow up stories anywhere !!

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    • James Mulhall

      Hello Valerie, thank you for your comment. Please see our latest update on the story of the Kelly twins here: http://irishpost.co.uk/separate-funerals-held-tragic-kelly-twins-died-without-next-kin/

      All further updates will be published in the news section of our website.

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