General Interest







The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase - a plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c".. Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter. In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away. By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru. Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl.

Freeman of Dublin city granted to Kelly's

The freedom of the city of Dublin started in the 13th century and continue till 1918 and was abolished under the Representation of the Peoples Act. Freedom was awarded to both men and women, generally to those from the trades or guilds. It was not confined to this section of society only, and we can see that many people of the professions were also granted the freedom of Dublin. Freemen had the right to vote and were exempt from many tolls and taxes. The downside was they were subject to the laws of the city and were obliged for military service in the defence of the city should the need arise.

The acceptance by religious persuasion varied over the years and reflected the political situation at the time.


Year Term Name Occupation Description Admission by
1469 Midsummer Kelly, Richard clerk   Fine and Special Grace
1471 Michaelmas Kelly, John tailor (on account of his wife) Marriage
1473 Michaelmas Kelly, Jennet [none] (apprentice of John Flemyng, yeoman) Service
1477 Christmas Kelly, Walter mariner (husband of Margery Dennyse, a freewoman) Marriage
1483 Michaelmas Kelly, Maurice shoemaker   Service
1484 Easter Kelly, John merchant   Service
1485 Easter Kelly, Makyne barber   Special Grace
1577 Midsummer Kelly, Pet' weaver   Service
1577 Midsummer Kelly, Thomas cutler   Service
1577 Christmas Kelly, Willus tailor   Service
1578 Christmas Kelly, Patric' laborer   Special Grace
1580 Christmas Kelly, Rich sadler   Service
1585 Christmas Kelly, Rosia spinster (daughter of William Kelly - on condition of not marrying any but freemen without consent of Mayor of Dublin for the time being) Special Grace
1585 Christmas Kelle, Ellenora maiden   Special Grace
1587 Christmas Kelly, Johes mason   Service
1589 Midsummer Kelly, Humfridus buttonmaker (son of William Kelly, buttonmaker) Birth
1589 Christmas Kelly, Johes butcher   Service
1590 Easter Kelly, Patric' baker   Service
1591 Christmas Kelly, Morgan shoemaker   Fine
1592 Michaelmas Kelly, Laghlen weaver   Service
1598 Midsummer Kelly, Patric' tanner   Service
1599 Christmas Kelly, Johes shearman (apprentice to William Magwier, sheernian, deceased) Service
1599 Christmas Kelly, Thomas glover (son of Walter Kelly, merchant) Birth
1601 Midsummer Kellye, Owinus butcher   Service
1605 Easter Kellye, Georgius baker   Service
1608 Easter Kelly, Nicholas merchant   Service
1608 Christmas Kelly, Willus tanner   Service
1608 Easter Kellye, David stabler   Fine
1618 Christmas Kelly, Richus chandler   Service
1618 Michaelmas Kelly, Thoms smith   Service
1621 Midsummer Kellie, Xpofer builder   Service
1624 Michaelmas Kelly, Johes blacksmith   Service
1626 Easter Kelly, Edmond shearman   Service
1627 Easter Kelly, Thomas fishmonger   Service
1629 Easter Kelly, Jacobus fisherman   Service
1629 Midsummer Kelly, Rose maiden (daughter of Mr. Nicholas Kelly, Alderman) Birth
1630 Midsummer Kelly, Johes mason   Service
1630 Christmas Kelly, Patricius cooper (apprentice of Connor Dowde, cooper) Service
1633 Michaelmas Kelly, Robtus clothier   Service
1634 Christmas Kelly, Edmondus baker   Service
1634 Christmas Kelly, Richus clothier   Service
1634 Michaelmas Kelly, Thomas tailor   Fine and Special Grace
1638 Midsummer Kelly, Richus baker   Service
1639 Michaelmas Kellie, Thadeus carpenter   Fine and Special Grace
1640 Midsummer Kelly, Willus cutler   Service
1641 Midsummer Kellie, Brigida maiden (daughter of Mr. Nicholas Kellie, merchant) Birth
1641 Midsummer Kellie, Johes shearman   Fine and Special Grace
1641 Midsummer Kellie, Mergeria maiden (daughter of Mr. Nicholas Kellie. merchant) Birth
1648 [Not given] Kelly, Thomas chandler   Not specified
1648 Midsummer Kelly, Richus baker   Service
1648 Midsummer Kelly, Richus tailor   Service
1648 Easter Kelly, Thomas chandler   Fine and Special Grace
1650 Michaelmas Kelly, Johes [none] (son of Mr. Nicholas Kelly, merchant. deceased) Birth
1650 Michaelmas Kelly, Walterus tailor (son of Thomas Kelly, tailor) Birth
1655 Christmas Kelly, William glover   Fine and Special Grace
1658 Midsummer Kelly, Easter spinster (daughter of Thadee Kelly, carpenter) Birth
1660 Michaelmas Kelly, Edmondus weaver   Fine and Special Grace
1662 Easter Kelly, Johes merchant   Fine and Special Grace
1662 Michaelmas Kelly, Thomas carpenter (son of Thady Kelly, carpenter, deceased) Birth
1663 Christmas Kelly, Eugenius plasterer   Service
1663 Midsummer Kelly, Robtus baker   Service
1663 Christmas Kelly, Willus tailor   Fine and Special Grace
1665 Midsummer Kelly, Anne spinster (daughter of said Richard Kelly, baker) Birth
1665 Midsummer Kelly, Edmundus barber-surgeon   Fine and Special Grace
1665 Easter Kelly, Eugenius girdler   Service
1665 Midsummer Kelly, Maria spinster (daughter of Richard Kelly, baker) Birth
1665 Christmas Kelly, Robt joiner   Service
1667 Michaelmas Kelley, Robtus merchant   Service
1667 Easter Kelley, Willus cooper (son of Thady Kelley, carpenter) Birth
1668 Christmas Kelley, Laurencius merchant (son of Richard Kelly, tailor) Birth
1669 Christmas Kelly, Catherine spinster   Fine and Special Grace
1669 Midsummer Kelly, Edmund barber-surgeon   Fine and Special Grace
1671 Easter Kelly, Hugo butcher   Fine and Special Grace
1671 Christmas Kelly, Jacobus goldsmith (apprentice of John Slicer, goldsmith) Service
1672 Easter Kelly, Eddus merchant   Service and Fine
1672 Michaelmas Kelly, Willus pewterer   Service
1677 Michaelmas Kelly, Edrus baker   Service
1678 Midsummer Kelly, Richard baker   Service
1678 Easter Kelly, Smith merchant   Service and Fine
1681 Michaelmas Kelly, Johes shearman (son of John Kelly, sheerman) Birth
1683 Christmas Kelley, Thadeus butcher   Service
1687 Date Kelly, Edward baker   Fine
1687 Date Kelly, John gentleman   Fine
1688 Easter Kelly, Daniel [none] children of Sherriff Edmond Kelly, Not specified
1688 Date Kelly, Edward baker   Fine
1688 Date Kelly, Edward baker   Fine
1688 Easter Kelly, John [none] children of Sherriff Edmond Kelly, Not specified
1688 Date Kelly, John glover   Fine
1688 Easter Kelly, Mary [none] children of Sherriff Edmond Kelly, Not specified
1688 Easter Kelly, Nicholas [none] children of Sherriff Edmond Kelly, Not specified
1688 Date Kelly, Patrick blacksmith   Fine
1693 Christmas Kelly, Wm. turner   Service
1694 Midsummer Kelly, Charles barber-surgeon   Act of Parliament
1694 Michaelmas Kelly, Edwd. cooper   Service
1703 Midsummer Kelly, James cooper   Service
1703 Midsummer Kelly, Mable spinster   Special Grace
1703 Easter Kelly, Thos. tallowchandler   Act of Parliament
1704 Easter Kelly, Wm barber (apprentice of Charles Kelly) Service
1709 Christmas Kelly, James smith   Service
1710 Michaelmas Kelly, Edwd. joiner   Service
1710 Christmas Kelly, Joshua butcher   Service
1710 Christmas Kelly, Peter currier   Service
1711 Christmas Kelly, John butcher   Service
1711 Midsummer Kelly, John cooper   Special Grace
1712 Midsummer Kelly, Gilbert barber-surgeon   Special Grace
1716 Michaelmas Kelly, Maurice bricklayer   Service
1717 Easter Kelly, John cooper   Special Grace
1717 Michaelmas Kelly, John smith   Special Grace
1718 Midsummer Kelly, David currier (apprentice of Peter Kelly) Service
1718 Christmas Kelly, Henry harness-maker   Act of Parliament
1719 Midsummer Kelly, Nicholas merchant (son of Edmund Kelly) Birth
1719 Midsummer Kelly, Thos. merchant   Service
1719 Midsummer Kelly, Wm. shoemaker (apprentice of James King) Service
1720 Midsummer Kelly, Wm cook   Special Grace
1723 Midsummer Kelly, Andrew joiner   Service
1725 Michaelmas Kelly, John smith   Service
1725 Christmas Kelly, Joseph merchant Quaker. Service
1727 Midsummer Kelly, Thos. joiner   Act of Parliament
1728 Easter Kelly, John cook (son of William Kelly) Birth
1728 Midsummer Kelly, Thos. slater   Service
1729 Christmas Kelly, Thos. butcher   Service
1734 Midsummer Kelly, Bryan butcher   Special Grace
1735 Michaelmas Kelly, Arthur weaver (son of John Kelly) Birth
1736 Christmas Kelly, Edward cooper (son of Edward Kelly) Birth
1738 Midsummer Kelly, Thomas bricklayer   Service
1744 Midsummer Kelly, William barber   Service
1746 Christmas Kelly, John butcher (son of Joshua Kelly) Birth
1747 Christmas Kelly, Alex'r. merchant   Special Grace
1748 Michaelmas Kelly, John carver   Special Grace
1748 Midsummer Kelly, Michl. joiner (son of Edward Kelly) Birth
1749 [Not given] Kelly, Thomas weaver Thomas Kelly of Francis Street, Weaver, service with Arthur Kelly, Mich 1735 B. Service
1749 Midsummer Kelly, Luke currier (son of Peter Kelly) gent' Birth
1749 Michaelmas Kelly, Thos. weaver (by service with Arthur Kelly) Service
1750 Midsummer Kelly, Philip brasier   Service
1750 Midsummer Kelly, Willm. merchant   Service
1753 Midsummer Kelly, James smith   Service
1755 Michaelmas Kelly, Jno. merchant   Special Grace
1764 Midsummer Kelly, Thos. miller Esq. Special Grace
1765 Michaelmas Kelly, Dennis cook   Service
1766 Michaelmas Kelly, Dennis merchant gent'. Special Grace
1766 Christmas Kelly, John barber   Special Grace
1767 Easter Kelly, John carpenter   Special Grace
1767 Midsummer Kelly, John merchant gent'. Special Grace
1768 Michaelmas Kelly, Edwd. painter   Special Grace
1771 Easter Kelly, Henry merchant   Special Grace
1774 Christmas Kelly, William currier   Birth
1816 Easter Kelly, John merchant Son of John kelly ad. Chr. 1790 B. Birth
1820 Easter Kelly, John merchant Grandson of John Kelly adm. Mids. 1767 G.E. Birth


Freeman of Cork city granted to Kelly's

Kelly Thomas                                  Esq Kings Council                 16/8/1769.

Kelly Walter                                     gentleman                              24/7/1734.

Kelly William                                   gentleman                              24/7/1734

Kelly Right Honourable Thomas     Common Pleas and

                                                        Judge of Assizes                  1/9/1793.

O’Kelly Dennis                                Major 11th Regiment.                 1828.


The same ‘terms and conditions’ would have applied to Cork


Saint Patrick, Patron saint of Ireland

St. Patrick's Breast-Plate prayer
As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me
the host of God save me.

May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.


An amazing story of guts and determination during WW11. The sequence shows a battered B17 in flight with extensive damage after a mid air collision.

The crew:

  • Navigator - Harry C. Nuclei
  • Bombardier - Ralph Burbridge
  • Engineer - Joe C. James
  • Radio Operator - Paul A. Galloway
  • Ball Turret Gunner - Elton Conda
  • Waist Gunner - Michael Zuk
  • Tail Gunner - Sam T. Sarpolus
  • Ground Crew Chief - Hank Highland.

 B-17 in 1943

A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named "All American", piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron.

When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunners turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew -

miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.
When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.
The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky.

For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn. 
Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used" so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it. 
Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. 
When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

The story was given to us by Peter C Kelly of Detroit. Peter is a Ui Maine Kelly.

Feb 2013.

What it means to be Irish?

This fairly well speaks for me - ED

SINCE WE LEARNT we were on an island, we have expended as much time getting off as we have expelling invaders.Our monks have sailed boats in far flung adventures, while invaders became a part of our lives. When we couldn’t get rid of any influx of unwanted visitors we often resorted to downright low-down tactics and married them. Think of the Normans; more Irish than the Irish themselves. We consumed our invaders while simultaneously sending forth our under-the-radar colonists.

The only difference with our colonising is that we used words and song and music to grab emotional land-banks across the world. A recent comment on had one (non Irish) commenter suggest there were 40 million living today on this small island. The sheer weight would of course have sunk our patch of green but it is a testament to the vast emotional imprint of our people over the years.

For an island race we are an interesting mix of conflicting characteristics. For an island race, we don’t really swim that well; we could argue we don’t have the weather. We don’t really eat fish very well; and I’m not including the breaded  variety. We often marry our own and while world-renowned for being friendly, that can be closed to people outside our community. Where we do excel is in carrying our culture, words, songs and stories – with us when we travel and down through the generations. And we have a strong sense of who we are.

Moreover the world has a strong sense of who we are.

While some of the adjectives liberally applied to being Irish are not so flattering – such as the drinking and fighting – others are striking. The musical nature of our people, the cultural heritage we assume as our birthright and the energy of a people who have faced much but come back for more. There are few nations in this global village that have such strong brand. Step back a moment. Think about other countries, both bigger and smaller than ours, and think about how much we know about them. Think of our national day. What other country gets to celebrate their national day on a global basis, in cities and towns across the world?‘We have exported the best of us and the worst of us’What other country has exported so many people that have left their mark wherever they travel? Other nations aspire to be Irish in a way that is out of the commonplace, out of the norm. Over the years, we have exported the best of us and the worst of us. When I left Ireland to work abroad some two decades ago, there were very few jobs at home.
The main difference to 2012 is that my parents were not wracked with debt that threatened to drown them – theirs, or from a toxic bank. I also left a very proud Irishwoman.

We were the darlings of Europe. We had an educated population that was in demand on a world stage. We had positive legislation to encourage inward investment. We had entrepreneurs and thinkers and world leaders. We had world beating sports people, authors, inventors, creators, innovators, dreamers, musicians, poets, filmmakers and scientists.

We still do. 

We have let the workings of a few distort the work of the many. We have not changed as a nation. We are still those heady, creative, intelligent, warm and educated people.What we have to confront is the short but lethal legacy of the banks and developers and politicians and trappings of greed. In two short decades we have been pulled down by cronyism and arrogance.No island race in the world has the energy and the persistence of ours. That dogged nature and love of natural justice will come back and dominate again. We have been the underdog too long to let the minders of greed take away our pride. It is time to stop being the underdog. It is time to examine what we have. It is time to build a new future.

Jillian Godsil is on Twitter at @jilliangodsil.



RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an icebergduring her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City, US. The sinking of Titanic caused the deaths of more than 1,500 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. The RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time it entered service. Titanic was the second of three Olympic class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line, and was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast with Thomas Andrews as her naval architect. Andrews was among those lost during the sinking. On her maiden voyage, she carried 2,224 passengers and crew.

Lost James Kelly

On 23 April the Mackay-Bennett search vessel picked up the body of Leixlip man James Kelly. The Mackay-Bennett’s crew was so overwhelmed by the scope of its recovery that it was decided to bury some bodies at sea. Some 116 bodies were buried at sea and 190 brought back to Halifax, Nova Scotia. James Kelly’s body went back into the unforgiving Atlantic Ocean the following day when he was buried at sea in canvas sacking. His death was recorded as: ‘Body No. 70 Male estimated age 34. Hair and moustache light. Clothing – Dark suit, vest and trousers; white socks; black boots. Effects – Beads, left on body; comb; knife. No marks. Name – James Kelly.’ James Kelly was actually older than thirty-four. He was forty-five and his death plunged the family at home in Co. Kildare, into financial crisis as well as the deepest grief. Mrs Kate Kelly was struggling to feed the rest of the family. There was some money sent home from the eldest son, Tom, who was a sergeant in the Connaught Rangers, and mill-workers Catherine (18) and Mary (16) also handed up money, but this was not enough. There were three other children – Bridget (13) William (12) and James (7). James Kelly senior was emigrating to America to join his eldest daughter, Margaret (20), and planned to then send for the rest of the family when he gained employment. James Kelly was born in Co. Kildare in 1867 and in the 1901 Census his employment was entered as a road labourer. He married Kate Goff on 31 January 1887 in Leixlip. Kate was born in Leixlip in 1863. In the 1911 Census James Kelly was recorded as a general labourer, who could not read, which was not uncommon at the time. The Kelly’s lived in a two-roomed house in the town. Kate Kelly applied for money from the Distress Fund and at a meeting of the Celbridge Board of Guardians in May was awarded 4s per week as relief. The sum of £12 had been subscribed towards the fund from the local church collection the previous Sunday.

The entire Kelly family later emigrated to America to join Margaret and other relatives. Margaret had been employed at the Strouse-Adler garment company in New Haven, New England, for two years and had sent the fare home (Ticket number 330911 – £7 12s 4d, plus 4 extra) for her father to join her in the United States. He planned to send for his wife and children in a few months when he was employed and had lodgings for them. The family had sold all their possessions in readiness for their move to America and with the death of James decided to go ahead with the original plan. Margaret’s company volunteered to be responsible to the immigration authorities that the family should not become public charges and they were admitted to the United States in June 1912. A huge crowd greeted the family at Union Station, New Haven, with banners saying ‘Welcome – Titanic Kellys.’

A specially-formed committee advanced $625 to pay for the passage and to meet the expenses of establishing a new home for the Kelly’s. Two of Margaret’s younger sisters, Catherine and Mary, were employed by the garment company, while the three remaining children were enrolled in a local Catholic school. 

Further grief was visited on the family four years later when Sgt Tom Kelly died of wounds received in battle on 23 January 1916 in Mesopotamia. A military memorial in Basra, Iraq, bears his name. His sisters Margaret, Catherine, and Bridget all lost their husbands at an early age. James Kelly’s widow, Kate, died in 1955, aged ninety. 

Kildare Observer 27 April 1912

Anna Katherine Kelly, “Annie Kate,” later to become also known as Sister Patrick Joseph, was born on January 14, 1892 in Cuilmullagh, Lahardane, in Addergoole civil parish, County Mayo, Ireland. Her parents, John Kelly and Ellen Flaherty were also born in the same area. Annie Kate was one of eleven children. She had nine sisters and one brother, Patrick. She was baptized on January 16, 1892.
Annie Kate spent her early life growing up happy in Lahardane playing with her sisters, working on the small farm supporting the large family, and going to school at the Rathbane School in Lahardane. She received a typical education until she was 14 years old, graduating in January 1906. Her life from 14 years - 20 years old is unknown, but probably revolved around the house, farming, planting, and harvesting in the small rural Mayo community. For Annie Kate, after finishing school, life continued around farming in Lahardane. Five years later in October 1911, a chance visit by Katherine McGowan, a cousin, who now lived in Chicago, changed her life forever. From this time forward, Annie Kate Kelly’s life and thirteen others from Lahardane would forever become intertwined with the United States, Chicago, and the ill-fated story of the White Star
Line Royal Mail Ship Titanic.
In October 1911, Katherine McGowan arrived in Lahardane with her niece, Anna McGowan, for an extended visit. Katherine, born in Lahardane and currently living in Chicago, had returned to Ireland and specifically Lahardane to visit family and friends. She intended to return to Chicago in the springtime of 1912. As Katherine McGowan moved through the rural village, she reacquainted herself with her family and re-established old friendships. She spoke often and enthusiastically of the United States and the opportunities present. Katherine had done well in Chicago where she owned a boarding house.
As Katherine McGowan’s accounts of life in Chicago became the talk of the village, some of the young men and women became captivated with the idea of creating a better life for themselves in the United States. And as an advantage, there was an existing network of family and friends in Chicago. As winter began to release its hold on the villages of Lahardane and the season gave way to spring, Katherine made her plans to return to Chicago in April 1912 aboard the new luxury liner RMS Titanic.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, eleven local young men and women agreed to go with her.

Annie Kate also made her decision to join the group traveling to the USA which now a total of fourteen people.

The group of fourteen was made up of mostly young men and women. All were from the Cuilmullagh or Crossmolina area in Lahardane. Most of them were also related to each other. All but the two McGowan’s were emigrating. Katherine McGowan had emigrated earlier, an Anna McGowan was born in the USA. Most of the Lahardane group was heading to Chicago. Annie Kate Kelly was to join her sister and cousins already living in Chicago.

To understand the magnitude of their decision to leave Ireland, one must understand the state of travel almost one hundred years ago. It is amazing that Katherine McGowan would have had the money and the time to afford a return trip to Ireland. A typical trip would take weeks and cost a considerable amount of money. The fact that Katherine returned to Ireland at all was a substantiation of the opportunities in the US. For those emigrating, a return trip was highly unlikely. It was simply an issue of economics, time, and distance. It was too expensive, too far, and requiring too much time. Those wishing to emigrate often had to borrow money from family and friends or ask for donations to scrape up enough cash for the long one-way passage. Transportation in that era, except for the wealthy, was frequently only one-way. Most emigrates barely had the funds to purchase a one-way ticket, never mind come back for a visit. Passage by ship was the only method available, typically taking weeks or months to reach a destination a quarter to half-way around the world in the US, Canada, or Australia. As a result, families and friends were permanently divided by time, distance, and money. These poor people would unlikely ever have enough money or time to ever return to Ireland again. The vast majority never did.

As was customary at the time, those leaving Ireland were often given a “wake.” The “wake” would be a celebratory send-off of sorts. They were frequently noisy affairs filled with both laughter and tears, everyone attending wishing farewell and healthy life to those family, friends, and loved ones leaving or staying. Many a tear would be shed at these gatherings as families and friends reconciled themselves to their final separation, as though those leaving had died.

At the beginning of April 1912, as the day of departure for Cork city approached, there was a large “American wake” for the group of travelers. Indications are that this was a large merry affair with many laughs and tears shed by both those leaving and those staying in Lahardane.

One of the travelers in the group, Bridget Delia McDermott, related an eerie and chilling encounter with a mysterious little man in black on the evening before she departed for Queenstown. (This story has been related by Delia’s niece, Ms. Delia Melody of Ballina.) As the story goes, Delia was preparing for her departure by purchasing new clothes. One of her prized items was a sharp new hat. The evening before she left for Queenstown, as she was in Lahardane village with friends, she was suddenly tapped on the shoulder. She turned around to see a mysterious little man in black whom she thought was a traveler. As she reached in her purse to give the man a few pennies, he told her that he knew she was going on a long journey. He told her there would be a tragedy, but that she would be saved. As Delia turned back around to tell her friends, the little man disappeared. Her friends said that they hadn’t seen anyone.

With a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and heartache, Annie Kate prepared to depart for Chicago via Queenstown and New York City. Annie Kate was luckier than most of her group. She had relatives living in Chicago; her sister Mrs. Margaret Kelly Rowland and first cousins Anna and Mary Garvey. Things were looking up for Annie Kate, passage had been scraped together, family waited on the other side of the ocean to greet her, and the passage would be swift on the immense and awe-inspiring RMS Titanic the largest man-made moving object in the world. Finally, the big day arrived in early April 1912 for the fourteen to depart Lahardane, probably forever.

From the Chicago Inter Ocean, April 19, 1912:

“Annie Kelley [sic] is my cousin,” Mrs. Garvey said yesterday afternoon, “and several
days before she sailed on the Titanic for America she wrote me a letter. I received this
letter on the day that I read of the disaster.”

Dear Cousin, I am coming to America on the nicest ship in the world. I am coming with
some of the nicest people in the world, too. Isn’t that just splendid?

They live in Chicago, and I shall be able to make the entire trip with them. They have
told me about Chicago and I know that I shall like it much better than I do Ireland. –
Annie Kelly”

Annie Kate was 20 years old when she boarded the RMS Titanic on Thursday, April 11, 1912 in Queenstown Harbour, near Cork city, County Cork, on the southern coast of Ireland. (Today Queenstown has been renamed its original Irish name, Cobh, pronounced “cove.”) The RMS Titanic, built in Belfast, was on her maiden voyage to New York making earlier stops for passengers in Southampton, England and Cherbourg, France. Annie Kate boarded the ship with a 3rd class passenger ticket # 9234, for £7, 15 shillings. The Titanic departed Queenstown at 1:30 PM, April 11, 1912.

After the Lahardane group had boarded the ship in Queenstown, the young red headed Patrick Canavan and 43 year old John Bourke began exploring the ship. During their exploration, they found a ladder leading from the 3rd class steerage deck to the upper decks of the ship. That seemingly small discovery would make the difference between life and death in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic for some of the members of this group from Lahardane.

The first few days passed as they became acquainted with the ship. At the end of the third day out of Queenstown Harbour, at about 11:35 PM on Sunday night April 14, 1912, while the Lahardane group slept in their cabins near the bottom of the ship, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg at 23 knots in the North Atlantic and began taking on water. The ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, reported to Captain Smithshortly after midnight 12:00 AM that the Titanic is doomed and will go down in 2 hours. At 12:05 AM, Captain Smith gives the order to prepare the lifeboats for evacuation.

The stewards did not awaken the steerage (3rd class) passengers at that time. Those steerage passengers who did awaken became alarmed but were ordered to go back to bed by the stewards “because there was no danger.”1 Soon though, it became apparent that something was not quite right. In the eerie silence of the stopped engines, Patrick Canavan and John Bourke gathered the members of their group together to look for a way up to the upper decks. They too were blocked from leaving the steerage class levels. From their previous exploration of the ship, they remembered the ladder that lead to the upper decks. They are reported to have gathered women and children around them and
helped them up to a higher deck. Patrick Canavan and John Bourke saved the lives of an unknown number of people that night through their quick thinking under pressure and their commitment to others. Unfortunately, they made their contributions at the cost of their own lives and the lives of the ones they loved traveling with them. They are undoubtedly only two of the many people who committed selfless acts that night, but even still, their act should not go unnoticed.

Once on deck, they sought out a lifeboat. However, the RMS Titanic had only twenty lifeboats, enough for only about half the passengers and crew. There was obviously confusion on the decks. Anna McGowan must have become separated from Annie Kate as she was possibly saved in lifeboat #13. Delia McDermott also may have been saved in lifeboat #13, but first she would risk her life for a sharp new hat.

As Delia McDermott arrived on deck near the lifeboats and prepared to board, she realized that she had left her new hat behind in her cabin. She got out of line and ran back below deck to retrieve her new hat. As she returned to the boat deck, it is reported that she had to jump the fifteen feet from the rope ladder into the lifeboat. She risked her life for a new hat, but as the strange little man dressed in black in Lahardane village predicted, she survived and with her new hat in hand.

Annie Kate became separated from the group herself. A steward, who had taken a liking to Annie Kate and was seen talking to her on several occasions, happened along at a critical moment. He noted that she was frightened and confused in the rush and the panic. The steward grasped her hand and led her to the boat deck and lifeboat #16. The steward probably saved her life. An account noted that, “As the ship was sinking, women and children were evacuated first. They formed a long line. A young bride refused to leave the ship without her husband.”2 In this account, the “young bride” was probably Catherine McHugh Bourke. She and John Bourke had been married only a little over a year. Catherine Bourke and her sister-in-law Mary Bourke were placed in the lifeboat by the crew. When they realized that John Bourke would not be allowed in the lifeboat, both Catherine and Mary refused to remain in the lifeboat. They proceeded to get out of the
lifeboat and join John Bourke and Patrick Canavan waiting against the rail. Annie Kate was placed in the lifeboat after the Bourke women got out. All three of the Bourke’s, John, Catherine, and Mary, as well as Patrick Canavan perished in the tragedy. Tragically, lifeboat #16 was not filled to capacity.

Another document quotes, “She (Annie Kate), along with a cousin, a young man near her age, was emigrating to America on the Titanic. . . . . . As she was being lowered into the lifeboat, she looked up and saw her cousin watching, holding in his hand his rosary, which he raised to bless her.”3 Patrick Canavan, her cousin, was 16 months older than Annie Kate and probably at the railing as the lifeboat was lowered.

Ernest Archer, 32; A.B. Seaman.

EA: We lowered the boat, and my mate pulled at the releasing bar for both falls, and that cleared the boat, and we started to pull
SB: Having about 50 passengers in the boat and only your mate and yourself?
EA: Yes, sir; the master-at-arms came down after us. He was the coxswain.SB: He came down one of the ropes?
EA: Yes, sir; came down the fall.
SB: He was sent by an officer?
EA: I presume he was sent by an officer.
SB: To help fill up your complement?
EA: He said he was sent down to be coxswain of the boat.
SB: And he took charge?
EA: He took charge.

Besides these six men I should think there were about 50 passengers. There was no effort on the part of the steerage men to get into our boat. I was told by the officer to allow none in it. When the officer started to fill the boat with passengers and the men to man it, there were no individuals who tried to get in, or that were permitted to get in. There was no confusion whatever. The officer asked me if could take an oar. I said I could.

Lifeboat #16 was lowered about 1:35 AM on Monday morning April 15, 1912. As the lifeboat pulled away from the sinking ship John Bourke, his wife Catherine, his sister Mary, and Patrick Canavan were standing by the railing, hands clasped, hoping for deliverance and waiting for the end. At about 2:20 AM at 41.16 N; 50.14 W, less than 3 hours since striking the iceberg, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic disappeared below the waves in a huge cauldron of boiling sea with 1,522 souls, including eleven of the fourteen young people from Lahardane.

Of the people traveling in the Lahardane group, only three, Annie Kate Kelly, Anna McGowan, and Bridget Delia McDermott survived the ordeal. Only 705 passengers and crew survived, not even one-third of the total complement. The survivors remained afloat in the ship’s twenty lifeboats until rescued by the Cunard Liner Carpathia and taken to New York City. This disaster was a particular blow to the people of Lahardane given that so many of their children perished that night. It is unclear why the women who did not survive the tragedy, besides the Bourke’s, were not in the same lifeboat with Annie Kate. The lifeboat contained forty passengers plus eleven crew in a lifeboat built for sixty-five passengers and crew. One possible explanation is that during the escape up the ladder from steerage class, the group became separated.

Annie Kate was clearly traumatized by her experience on the Titanic. After the survivors were picked up by the Carpathia, the ship immediately set sail for New York. In New York, the survivors were given expedited immigration and those in need hospitalized. Annie Kate and fellow survivor Anna McGowan were both hospitalized for about six weeks at St. Vincent’s Hospital. After that stay, they were both unceremoniously released. Both women were released from the hospital with nothing on but their hospital night gowns. Somehow they were given leftover clothes, an old pair of shoes, an old coat, and a train ticket to Chicago. When they arrived in Chicago, Annie Kate was still suffering from exposure and shock. The Chicago Daily Tribune article described:

A nervous wreck as the result of her experiences on the Titanic, Miss Anna Kelly is at
the home of her cousins, Anna and Mary Garvey, 306 Eugenie Street, with a physician
constantly in attendance. Efforts are being made to save the reason of the young woman,
who was one of the last steerage passengers to escape from the ill-fated boat. She has been unable to sleep, haunted by the wild scenes on the boat just before it went down, and is still suffering from the hours of exposure before she was picked up by the Carpathia. ’Miss Kelly is a nervous wreck,’ said Dr. Thomas J. O’Malley, who is
attending her. ‘I doubt she ever will completely recover her normal condition. Her life
is in jeopardy now. Unless she can overcome her awful fear and terror at every sound, I
fear for her life.’ Despite her condition, the young woman gave a graphic account of the
wreck and the escape in one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship.

Dr. Mary O’Brien Porter of the Catholic Woman’s League protectorate met Annie Kate and Anna McGowan in Chicago. Dr. O’Brien Porter appealed to Chicago Mayor Harrison to divert some of the Titanic relief funds, earmarked for the New York societies, to be used to assist these two women in Chicago. Dr. O’Brien Porter was reported to have said, 

“We want to see them get a fair pro rata share of the money collected in Chicago. These girls were sent away from a hospital in New York in their night gowns. They were forced to make the trip from New York to Chicago in their coats and night gowns. They had no dresses nor underwear. Anna McGowan is the oldest girl of seven children. The remainder of her family are destitution in

After the tragedy, Annie Kate remained in Chicago. As far as can be told, Annie Kate never spoke to anyone again about that night on the RMS Titanic. My father, her nephew, once encouraged her to write down her experiences. She refused. It has been reported that for years Annie Kate would vote in a precinct different from where she lived to better obscure her whereabouts from curiosity seekers.

In Chicago, Annie Kate belonged to the Holy Name Cathedral Parish and there became acquainted with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She stopped in often at Holy Name Cathedral thanking God for her rescue, which she considered a miracle. On June 12, 1921 at the age of 29 years, she entered the convent in Adrian, Michigan. She took the name Sister Patrick Joseph Kelly. She professed on August 12, 1924 at the age of 32 years and made her final profession on June 19, 1933 at the age of 41 years old.

Sister Pat loved Chicago and taught for many years in the Chicago area including Our Lady of Good Counsel (closed), St. Philip Neri, and St. Rita (closed), all in Chicago; Ascension in Harvey, IL; and Visitation in Elmhurst, IL. She taught in only six schools outside of Chicago and only for a year or two each. These include St. Mary, Royal Oak, MI; St. Ambrose and Presentation in Detroit, MI; St. Paul in Owosso, MI; Resurrection in Lansing, MI; and St. Augustin in Des Moines, IA. She taught twice at St. Rita in Chicago over a period of twelve years. St. Philip Neri was also a long-term assignment for her as well as six years teaching in Our Lady of Good Counsel in the Stock Yards area of Chicago.

Chicago was special to Sister Pat possibly partially because of the family support and as the place where she became acquainted with the Adrian Sisters. Each time she was transferred to Michigan, she would beg to be sent back to Chicago.

Sister Pat was a tall slender woman. She was known for her outstanding forthrightness, honesty, and wit.

In the 1940’s, she broke her hip, which resulted in a lifetime of limitation and pain. The handicap did not however keep her from her devotion to teaching, and she continued her work in the classroom.

In 1950, Sister Pat made her first trip back to Ireland after the death of her parents who died in 1938 and 1945. She was met at Shannon airport by her brother Patrick Kelly and taken to the family farm in Cuilmullagh. There she met many relatives, including many nieces and nephews. She returned to Addergoole again in 1956. By 1950, my father, son of her brother Patrick, had already emigrated to America and was living in Chicago.

Sister Pat taught until June 1969, retiring to the motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan. She remained there until her death on December 18, 1969, and is buried there. The Chicago doctor who doubted Sister Pat would “ever recovering her normal condition” could not have been more wrong. Sister Pat had more strength than any of us knew. She lived till the age of 77 years.




RMS LUSITANIA. The official analysis of missing and survivors issued by the Cunard Steamship Company on 1 March 1916, listed 1,195 missing (178 first class, 374 second and 239 third and 404 crew members) and 764 survivors (113 first class, 227 second and 134 third, and 290 crew members). This figure has since been amended to 1198, which probably
includes 3 German stowaways who’s names have never been confirmed.


Even though Germany had issued a state of war warning that any ship in, what would be now called ‘an exclusion zone’ would be classed as a legitimate target, the RMS Lusitania set sail from New York on the 1st of May 1915 for Liverpool in the UK. Six days later, off the south coast of Ireland, near Kinsale, and because of fog, at approx. 1.40pm her Captain, W.T. Turner, slowed from full speed to a slower rate. This was a fatal error. Kapitän-lieutenant Walter Schwinger of the U-20 fired one torpedo into the starboard side of the luckless liner. The shot registered as a hit, and was followed immediately by a second thundering explosion. One can only speculate as to the reason for this secondary explosion. The Lusitania sank within 18 minutes on the 7th May 1915. 

Records show there were nine Kelly’s on board, two died and seven were rescued. Two traveled 2nd Class, three travelled 3rd Class and
the remaining four were crew members.

KELLY, Miss Margaret S. Age 32 Pittsburgh, PA 2nd Class Margaret S. Kelly, 34, 

was the oldest of ten children. In 1889, her parents had immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States from Ireland. She was a naturalized US citizen. The rest of her family (her cousins and grandparents) was still in northern Ireland, so in spring of 1915, Margaret boarded to Lusitania to see her Irish family.

Margaret Kelly was born about 1880 in Ireland to Thomas and Margaret Kelly. She was the oldest of 10 children, although only four brothers and four sisters, for a total of nine children, are mentioned. Court documents state that Margaret moved to the United States when she was 12, though when her parents moved to America in 1889 she would have been 9.

Her father Thomas was a pattern maker in the employ of the Allegheny Foundry Company in Pittsburgh. Margaret had for more than 12 years been in the employ of the Pittsburgh Lamp and brass Company as a clerk and stenographer. For the last four years before her death she was paid a salary of $85 per month. The record indicates that from this salary she made contributions to her father somewhat in excess of the reasonable value of her board and lodgings. Margaret was lost in the disaster. Her body was recovered, #125. Some of the possession that were recovered with Margaret and
returned include her eyeglasses, a very small pocket knife, a small Irish Bible, a coin purse and a ticket stub for a deck chair on the Lusitania and a ledger that included a list of her monthly expenses. Margaret was buried in Common Grave B.Margaret was survived by her father, Thomas Kelly, and her mother, Margaret Kelly, then 58 and 54 years of age respectively; and also by two married sisters and by four other brothers and sisters who were then minors. Body No 125










"Anyone who goes to sea for pleasure, goes to hell for a pastime"

As they listened to the BBC shipping forecast that afternoon, Kevin Burke who was crewing on the Rapparee (the Rapper as she was called. Ed.) were relieved to hear that the approaching gale would, at worst, be a Force 8 blowing at 34-40 knots. It was a cool Monday evening in August 1979. Two days earlier, the Rapparee had been one of over three hundred racing yachts to set sail from the Isle of Wight on the world-famous Fastnet Race.[i] But tragically, the BBC got it wrong. The freak storm that was about to engulf the competitors in the tempestuous Celtic Sea that dreadful night was moving too quickly for the weathermen to comprehend its force. By Tuesday evening, nineteen people were dead and the Fastnet Race had become synonymous with the greatest yachting tragedy of all time.

For sailors, the biennial Fastnet Race has marked the climax of the summer races ever since August 1925 when the first seven boats completed the 608 mile round trip.[ii] The course begins at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, runs along the south English coast and rounds Land’s End into the Celtic Sea. The boats then charge across a vast expanse of open water, loop around the hat-shaped Fastnet Rock, the southernmost point of Ireland, and turn back for the finishing post in Plymouth.

[iii] Thirty years ago, as the Fastnet yachts made their way down the English Channel, the deadly tempest that would slam into them was spinning across the Atlantic. The storm was born the previous Thursday when a cold Arctic front crashed down on the baking hot grain fields of North America. A depression of unusual strength was formed and began to move east, pouring heavy rains on the city of Minneapolis and whipping up white-capped waves on the Great Lakes. A tree fell in New York’s Central Park and killed a woman. By the time the depression left the east coast of Nova Scotia, it had become a violent storm. It was still gathering momentum with every mile and, midway across the Atlantic, it sucked in a second, much larger Arctic depression.

By Monday morning, most of the unsuspecting competitors had rounded Land’s End and were entering into that exposed stretch of the Celtic Sea south of the Cork and Waterford coastline. For many, it was their first time in these treacherous waters.

[iv]At 12:50pm, the 79-foot Kialoa, became the first boat to turn the Fastnet Rock in a 12-18 mph wind. By the time media mogul Ted Turner's 61-foot Tenacious reached the rock at 6:30pm, the gauge was giving a consistent wind-speed of 40 knots. Turner poked his head out the hatch, eyeballed the frothing sea and remarked: ‘Gee, those are big waves’. Turner would ultimately go on to win the race.

It soon became apparent that the winds were considerably stronger than those forecast by the BBC. In fact, it was a Force 10, verging on Force 11 storm. The diference is that where a Force 8 might break a few twigs on a branch, a Force 11 can uproot an entire tree.

By 10 o’clock at night, the North Atlantic ‘bomb’ was detonating across the Celtic Sea, plunging the entire fleet into a sixteen-hour night from hell. At first, the crews reacted in the customary manner, lashing down tillers, reducing the headsails and battening down the hatches.

But as darkness fell, the ocean had become a churning, rolling nightmare of white foam and giant, frothy green waves. The winds were now gusting at speeds of up to 75-knots, churning up 15-metre high waves. One witness recalled how ‘the whole sea was heaving about with vast stretches of water, the size of football fields, tipped up at an angle as the swell went through’. Another likened it to being at the foot of the clifs of Dover with this giant white-crested wall looming overhead.

Between the waves, there was the pitch black of night. ‘It accentuates the fear within you when you can’t see anything’, says Kevin Burke. ‘When you see a little green light indicating the top of a mast disappearing into the waves, you can only think ‘Jesus, those poor buggers’.’

Staying afloat was now the sole priority. Over half of the fleet resorted to special storm tactics to protect themselves. Forty-six boats tried to outrun the winds under bare polls.[v] Twenty six attempted to hove–to until the storm had passed, while eighty six lay a-hull, drifting at the sea’s mercy, with no sail and their crews trembling below deck. The boats became isolated from one another. Smaller vessels began to vanish between the tumbling tides, their masts smacking into the tidal surge.

At midnight those still able to listen to their radios heard the British Meteorological Ofce warning: "The depression has deepened alarmingly in the last 12 hours and the worst is still to come."

The Rapparee was caught out in the open. ‘We were in the absolute worst place we could be’, says Kevin Burke. As the waves came crashing onto the boat, he recalls how ‘the inside of the boat became totally awash and everything started to come loose. That’s when I began to think: ‘Jesus, will we survive this?’ You couldn’t even talk to each other because you couldn’t hear anything over the deafening roar. Everybody was keeping themselves tied in, strapped in, doing their best to survive. You couldn’t go outside. You couldn’t steer the boat. So we lashed the helm, battened down the hatches and headed down below, wondering was it time to sing ‘Nearer, my God to Thee’.

The 40ft Silver Apple was just 40 miles from rounding the Fastnet Rock when skipper Philip Watson gave the order to retire. Aidan McManus, owner of the acclaimed King Sitric restaurant in Howth, was amongst its eight-strong Irish crew. Before the storm struck, he had cooked dinner for everyone. He recalls how, when it became apparent that they had lost the power of steerage, the crew began taking down the sails. ‘That’s when I was washed of the boat’, he says. ‘I had my safety harness on so I was alright and when the boat righted herself, I was bounced back in.

’Aidan was fortunate that his safety harness worked. At least six people died that night because their harnesses failed. Buckles became undone, hooks straightened out, attachment lines broke, safety ropes chafed. When Aidan watched a news report on this malfunction many months later, his mother turned to him and said, ‘What’s wrong with you Aidan, why have you gone so pale?’

Many of the small racing yachts were designed for speed and performance. But stability and seaworthiness are considerably more important when confronting a sea whose scalps include the Spanish Armada. Moreover, says Kevin, many of the sailors were simply out of their depth.‘

There must have been ten Irish boats competing but at least they had some experience of these conditions. A lot of the English sailors lived in the Greater London area and would come down to Southampton at the weekend for a spot of yachting. Then they decided ‘let’s do the Fastnet’. But they were totally ill prepared for the storm. I can imagine their panic when those mountainous seas set in.’

As wheels, rudders and masts began to crack, so crew-members - already dehydrated, seasick and utterly terrified - found themselves in serious danger of being impaled or crushed by the viciously flexing joinery. They were also being constantly drenched by the ice cold waters and washed overboard. ‘We capsized twice’, says Kevin, ‘and bent our mast and two people went overboard’. They too were fortunate that their harnesses worked.

As skippers scanned the night sky for help, all they could see were other mayday signals and distress flares hurtling into the darkness. During the night, over a hundred boats were knocked over and seventy-seven rolled over. When the boat of American businessman Frank Ferris capsized, he was killed, along with three of his crew.[vi] The drama was turning into a tragedy.

In the panic, twenty-four crews abandoned ship and took to the deceptive sanctuary of their life rafts. They too capsized, while their protective canopies were ripped away by the angry winds, leaving those on board completely exposed to the bitter cold. Seven people died after taking to life rafts, most of them from hypothermia.[vii]

There were inevitably mistakes. The crew of the Grimalkin abandoned their yacht for a life raft, believing two of their colleagues were dead. The two men were alive at the time although one would later recall how his friend died even as the rescue helicopter bore down on them, delivering poignant last words, ‘If you see Margaret (his wife) again, tell her I love her’.‘

We lay a-hull for twenty hours’, recalls Aidan on board the Silver Apple. ‘Our boat had an aluminum hull so it was incredibly noisy. We’d lost sight of all the other boats. The only thing we could see were very big waves, lots of white foam and what we assumed to be a Russian trawler, lit up brightly, which we tried to avoid. We didn’t have the radio technology we have nowadays but we were able to relay messages to an operator at the Kinsale Gas Field. He must have been on duty for 24 hours straight. He was one of the real heroes.’[viii]

Most of the bigger yachts had got around the Fastnet Rock and were homeward bound when the storm struck. Fifty-seven of these were simultaneously competing in the now defunct biennial Admiral’s Cup, the most hotly contested racing series of the day, of which the Fastnet Race formed the final leg.

Three of these yachts were Irish. Indeed, before the storm struck, the Irish were holding first and second position in this unofcial world championship, courtesy of Ken Rohan’s universally admired yacht Regardless and the late Hugh Coveney’s 44-foot Golden Apple of the Sun.[ix] Regardless had already won the first races of the series and had the Admiral’s Cup firmly in her sights when she lost her rudder to the storm. She was rescued by the Baltimore Lifeboats and towed to safety in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The Golden Apple was no luckier. She was confidently surfing back to the Scilly Isles when her rudder also broke.[x] The crew tried to make a quick-fix rudder from the spinnaker poles but these ‘snapped like twigs’, leaving the boat to roll helplessly on the waves until a rescue helicopter sky-hooked them to safety.‘

'We had no idea how bad things were’, says Kevin. ‘When an RAF Lynx hovered over us, we had a handheld radio and we were able to communicate with the pilot. He asked were we okay, had we any physical injuries on board? We said no. We weren’t looking to be rescued but we were looking for comfort. He said sorry, there’s nothing we can do for you, we have to take some bodies from the water. Bodies! We were shocked to think someone had lost their life in the race'.’
By Tuesday evening, the storm had abated sufficiently forBrian Kelly, skipper of the Rapparee, to chance a storm-gib. ‘Even getting that up was a challenge because the winds were still running at 40’, says Kevin. They used a sextant to get a bearing and sailed into the safety of Dunmore East. Earlier that day, the Silver Apple managed to motor into Crosshaven.

On land, the survivors learned that fifteen Fastnet competitors had died – twelve Britons, two Americans and one Dutchman – as well as three men and a woman who were following the race in a trimaran.[xi] Of the 303 ships that started the race, only 87 finished. Ted Turner won it.

There is no doubt that many more would have died were it not for the extensive search and rescue operation, a collaboration between the French, British, Dutch and Irish Navies, with the RAF supplying a vital Nimrod and several Whirlwind, Sea King and Lynx helicopters. Eight military ships, five merchant vessels and 13 lifeboats took part in the rescue operation, including the Baltimore, Ballycotton and Scilly lifeboats. 138 men and women were plucked from the water to safety. Despite the rescue operation, the Fastnet is remembered as one of the worst yachting disasters of all time.[xii]

On Friday 28th August 2009, Kevin and Aidan were among a dozen survivors of the Fastnet tragedy who gathered of Lambay Island in Dublin Bay to mark the 30th anniversary of the fatal storm. This was the first commemoration of its kind in Ireland and Kevin hopes it will provide ‘some sort of catharsis and reflection’.[xiii]

‘It was a horrendous time for all of us’, he says. ‘Most people who survived that awful night and day have never talked about it. Never. A lot of people I know are really surprised to learn that I was on the Fastnet. But perhaps, thirty years on, its time we did start to talk about it.’


[i] On the afternoon of Saturday August 11, a record fleet of 303 yachts, flying the flags of 20 nations, set out from Cowes. As dusk fell, those who watched the boats depart felt an unusual chill in the air, accompanied by an ominous grey fog that blew in from the Channel.

[ii] The race was the brainchild of British author and yachtsman Weston Martyr. It is now run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club who host it biennially, alternating with the Bermuda Race.

[iii] The Fastnet Rock is a hat-shaped rock with its white lighthouse neatly tucked into its side like a plume. Located 6.5km southwest of rocky Cape Clear Island, near Roaringwater Bay, the isolated Fastnet Rock was known in the 19th century as 'The Teardrop of Ireland' as it was the last sight of Ireland seen by generations of emigrants to America. In 1847, over 90 lives were lost when an American packet ship was lost of nearby Crookhaven. Prior to 1979, this was considered an extremely safe race. In 27 races, the only fatalities were a crewman lost overboard in 1931 and a middle-aged sailor who sufered a heart attack in 1977. The 28th Fastnet was to prove devastatingly diferent.

[iv] Some of the experienced fishermen who watched the fleet pass expressed unease at the gung-ho sailing they witnessed.

[v] One boat that tried to outrun the storm was the fin-keeled 45-ft Marionette of Wight which tried to race on through the storm but 20 miles after rounding Fastnet, her rudder broke at the very same moment that the Atlantic depression reached its lowest reading. The crew desperately scrabbled together a warp of almost 100m length, using three Genoa sheets and two secure anchor lines and managed to get the boat to lie safely hove-to until the storm had passed.

[vi] Amongst these was Britain’s former Prime Minister Ted Heath.

[vii] One man died of hypothermia and another drowned while clinging to the liferaft of the British yacht Trophy, owned by Alan Bartlett, a brother-in-law of comedian Eric Morecambe. When it transpired that only six of the abandoned boats actually sank, questions were raised over the wisdom of the decision to jump. Some felt that the intense cold had caused otherwise experienced seamen to behave irrationally.

[viii] Occasionally they made contact with other vessels and heard reports of empty or coverless life rafts tossing about on the ferocious waves.[ix] The Golden Apple’s extremely experienced crew included Harry Cudmore(one of the top dinghy sailors of the 1960s, who’d been hired to call the tactical shots), Ron Holland (the boats designer), Rodney Pattisson (Britain’s triple Olympic medalist, as principal helmsman), Des McWilliam and Neil Kennefick.Regardless was a high spec boat, also designed by Holland and built by his brother-in-law, Gary Carlin, in Florida. 

She was deigned to race at serious speeds and had a full, powerful underbody aft - a useful asset in the Cup races in strong breezes - plus the added advantage of Ron Love and a highly competent crew.

[x] Legend holds that as the Golden Apple rounded the Fastnet Rock at high speed, a man had been strapped to the mast with a flare gun with orders to shoot a hole in the spinnaker sail if the ship appeared to be out of control. The hole would thus have deflated the sail and becalmed the ship. Initially the steering cables jumped of the rudder quadrant which took a couple of hours to repair. They got the boat fixed and carried on but then the rudder broke, with Ron Holland at the helm.

[xi] Three people died during the rescue - one while being rescued by a helicopter and two while trying to climb up a scrambling net thrown over the side of a ship.

The Rapparee was still eligible to continue in the race but voted 5-1 against, with Enda O'Coineen electing to push on. ‘In Dunmore East, we were amazed to see all the masts and then we realised that so many others had also had to abandon the race’.

[xii] The Fastnet Tragedy led to many changes in the regulations for ocean races and an increased awareness of the importance of navigational and electronic aids. With today’s technology, all those ships would have had plenty of warning about the approaching storm and would probably have survived intact.

[xiii] Other survivors will include Enda O'Coineen who has since crossed the Atlantic on a rubber raft was also on Rapparee . ‘We’ll be like the First World War’, laughs Kevin. ‘We’ll be counting down the years until we get to the last survivor’.

With thanks to Kevin Burke, Aidan McManus, Sarah-Beth Musgrave, Tim Bourke, Collum O'Sullivan, Simon Dick and Regina Lavelle.

Just some of the IOSRA trophies won by Brian and the crew of Rapparee

May 2012.

Census 1901

Census 1901 Kelly  Ó Kelly Kelley Ó Ceallaigh Total  


Antrim 1896 9 10 - 1915  
Armagh 983    - 1 - 984  
Donegal 2021 2 10 - 2033  
Down  1582 1 8   1591  
Fermanagh 280 - - - 280  
L’ Derry 1419 17 1 - 1437  
Monaghan 777 5 8 - 790  
Tyrone 1665 6 14 - 1685  
Cavan 398 11 - - 409  
  11021 51 52 0 11124 11124


Cork 1814 61 27 1 1903  
Kerry 1012 14 - - 1026  
Limerick 1261 68 9 - 1338  
Tipperary 1148 12 1 - 1161  
Waterford 580 - 4 - 584  
Clare 1628 31 3 - 1662  
  7443 186 44 1 7674 7674


Carlow 755 1 2 - 758  
Dublin 5988 152 45 2 6187 Capitol
Kildare 1462 17 30 - 1509  
Kilkenny 956 7 3 - 966  
Kings Co 1143 10 3 - 1156 now Offaly
Longford 639 - - - 639  
Louth 749 1 8 - 758  
Meath 735 5 2 - 742  
Queens Co 880 9 3 - 892 now Laois
Wexford 1149 2 7 - 1158  
Wicklow 998 2 7 - 1007  
Westmeath 887 1 3 - 891  
  16341 207 113 2 16663 16663


Galway 4150 24 11 1 4186  
Leitrim 931 - 20 - 951  
Mayo 2828 12 25 - 2865  
Roscommon 3000 3 12 - 3015  
Sligo 866 12 1 - 879  
  11775 51 69 1 11896 11896






Census 1911

Census 1901 Kelly  Ó Kelly Kelley Ó Ceallaigh Total  


Antrim 2009 4 9 3 2025  
Armagh 891 4 3 - 898  
Donegal 1949 14 1 17 1981  
Down  1602 - 2 - 1604  
Fermanagh 110 - - - 110  
L’ Derry 1388 - 7 - 1395  
Monaghan 693 5 - 8 706  
Tyrone 1569 2 5 5 1581  
Cavan 385 7 1 - 393  
  10596 36 28 33 10693 10693


Cork 1782 75 20 - 1877  
Kerry 968 16 9 - 993  
Limerick 1218 122 14 3 1357  
Tipperary 1136 32 2 - 1170  
Waterford 575 5 7 1 588  
Clare 1479 16 - - 1495  
  7158 266 52 4 7480 7480


Carlow 749 4 2 - 755  
Dublin 6770 196 30 8 7004 Capitol
Kildare 1495 16 - - 1511  
Kilkenny 1079 8 - - 1087  
Kings Co 1087 - 3 - 1090 Now Offaly
Longford 644 - - - 644  
Louth 696 2 - - 698  
Meath 643 1 - - 644  
Queens Co 888 - 2 - 890 now Laois
Wexford 1107 6 6 - 1119  
Wicklow 1028 5 1 - 1034  
Westmeath 749 5 4 - 758  
  16935 243 48 8 17234 17234


Galway 3764 14 17 19 3814  
Leitrim 913 1 - - 914  
Mayo 2675 9 16 - 2700  
Roscommon 2684 2 12 1 2699  
Sligo 885 1 1 - 887  
  10921 27 46 20 11014 11014