What happened to the Kelly twins? Final farewells for estranged Irish brothers after international search for next of kin

What happened to the Kelly twins? Final farewells for estranged Irish brothers after international search for next of kin

IN FEBRUARY, The Irish Post was contacted by a woman named Margaret Deeney who lives in London.  

Mrs Deeney wanted help regarding a friend of hers who had died with no next of kin.

William Kelly (known as Bill) from Turner’s Cross in the south of Cork City, died on January 29 in Muswell Hill, north London. He was 77 years old.

When Mrs Deeney went in search of a family member she discovered something unexpected – Bill had a twin brother, John, who lived not far away in London and had also died within weeks, perhaps even days of his estranged brother.

The resulting call out to find a member of Bill and John's family garnered an unprecedented reaction from the public and the story moved to Ireland where it was picked up by dozens of radio stations, newspapers and by RTÉ.

A day later, Corkman Seán Kelly (pictured right), a first cousin of John and William Kelly contacted The Irish Post. 


What happened to the Kelly Twins? 

  • On April 5, John Kelly's remains were cremated in accordance with his wishes, and his ashes have been interred with his mother Catherine's grave in London

  • John Kelly's will was discovered in his home after his death. In it, he asked that all his belongings be left to charity

  • As for William (Bill) Kelly, his body was repatriated to his birthplace of Cork in April

  • On April 8, 2016 a funeral for Bill Kelly took place in St Columba's Church in Bweeng, Cork, attended by his cousin Seán, other family members and neighbours. The service was officiated over by Fr Seán Corkery, who is also a relation of the Kelly twins

  • Bill Kelly was buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery, the same cemetery as his father Dennis, so one of the twins is in London with their mother Catherine and one lies in Cork, with their father Dennis.

  • After an Irish Post Go Fund Me campaign raised a total of £6,240 (£3,240 from the public, one donation from O'Donovan Waste of £2,000 and £1,000 from The Irish Post) to cover any expenses relating to the Kelly Twins repatriation, funerals and burial expenses. In the case that any funds remain following the final costs being paid, the remainder will be donated to charity.

  • Cousin Seán Kelly paid thanks to all those who has supported the fundraising campaign.  Speaking about Bill Kelly's repatriation to Ireland he added: "He'd never have landed back in Cork but for you. He'll get a good send-off."

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