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Friday, 13 September 2013

Slan Abhaile Bill Kelly

Bill Kelly (on right) in 1965. Bill Kelly, below in 2013 photographed by Tadhg Devlin. This is what he told Tadhg when asked if he could photograph him on New Brighton Beach.

 "I live in Wirral so New Brighton would be fine and appropriate for as a young person I stood on that beach watching the ferries sail to Ireland and bitterly wishing I was on one."

Bill Kelly by Tadhg Devlin. He returns to Ireland today! Bon Voyage, Bill.

I love the way things come round full circle. Several years ago, I posted something on Myra Hindley and the famous mugshot of her. A few weeks later, a message from the daughter of the photographer came into my inbox which resulted in this post.

In July, I posted something about Keith Medley's Doubletake. A few weeks later I got a message from Bill Kelly, one of the people featured in the exhibition. This is what it said...

One of my nephew's visited the exhibition at the Walker and was amazed to recognise myself and my   brother Danny. The picture was taken mid 1965. I was twelve and he was thirteen and a half. He is the one with the watch. We had arrived in England from Ireland some years earlier. We were due to go on a trip to Lourdes in France and my mother applied for and was refused two British passports for us.

Sir Fredrick Woolf who was organising the trip met with us in London and took  us to the Irish embassy where the Ambassador issued a joint passport for us both. We traveled to France the next day.

Sir Fredrick kept the passport and we never saw it again.
I am amazed to see these pictures!

I passed on his details to Tadhg Devlin who is photographing Irish migrants to Liverpool for his project 12 Miles Out and lives within a few miles of Bill's (soon-to-be-old) home in the Wirral. Tadgh took his portrait.

I aslo passed it on to Ken Grant who, along with Mark Durden, edited the excellent book that accompanies the exhibition.

The book is available for sale here (only £10)

And here is an interview with Bill Kelly that ran on the Miniclick blog.
 Here's an excerpt below. 

We had been to England twice on holiday before yet I still believed my sister when she told me during the boat trip that the houses in England were all painted white with red window  frames and English people ate children. We arrived at Woodside and watched the cattle being unloaded before the boat crossed to Liverpool to let us off and then we crossed the Mersey again to Wallasey by ferry. We stayed with an aunt and uncle who gave us Weetabix for breakfast. We had never seen this before and thought it was cardboard and that no matter how bad things were in Ireland, post-war England must be worst if they had to feed children on cardboard.

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