Tony is reunited with family following years of searching

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A MAN who spent the first 16 years of his life in two mother and baby institutions and was fostered out a total of nine times, spent decades searching for his family. He was finally reunited with his siblings in recent weeks.

Tony Kelly (73), from Kilnamanagh in Tallaght, spent periods of his childhood in St Theresa’s in Blackrock and St Philomena’s in Stillorgan, and was fostered out to nine different families in Dublin before spending ten years with a foster family in Mayo.

TonyPeter Molly Finian Tom NEW 1

Tony Kelly with Peter, Molly, Finian and Tom

Mr Kelly, who is one of the founders of the United Survivors Group for former mother and baby home survivors, moved out of the foster home in Mayo when he turned 16 and went to England, where he worked in construction and also became involved in the British wrestling scene.

In 1980, Mr Kelly concluded his wrestling career and returned to Ireland, and began searching for information about his family.

After a 31-year search, compounded by a struggle to access files that were held by the State and the church, the former wrestler was finally able to piece together his family history.

Explaining what he discovered, Mr Kelly said: “My mother was Bridget Mary Kelly, otherwise known as Queenie, and she used to do some housework for my father – they were near neighbours.

“My mother was a very attractive girl, aged only 27, and my father was ten years older.

“[My father’s] wife was in and out of hospital on her eighth child [when my mother became pregnant].

“When the Kellys found out that my mother was pregnant with me, they got a local priest to take her to Dublin from County Meath. I was born in Holles Street hospital in 1946.”

Tonys Parents 1

Tony's parents

More details about Mr Kelly’s family then emerged through his diligent search, including the discovery that he had six brothers and two sisters on his father’s side, but sadly his brother Michael and sister Margaret were deceased by the time Mr Kelly managed to trace his family.

He also discovered that his mother, whose funeral he had unwittingly attended after a person advised Mr Kelly to attend a woman’s funeral in Dun Laoghaire as he said that Mr Kelly might see someone he knew there, had later married and given birth to two daughters and another son.

However, in recent weeks Mr Kelly has been back-and-forth between Ireland and the UK, meeting his siblings after many long years of searching, and has reunited with his sister Mary Bridget, known as Molly, and his brothers Sean, Eugene, James, Peter and Finian.

Describing the difficulties he encountered when trying to find out about his parents and their families, and the false starts he had due to being given incorrect information, Mr Kelly said: “I made a vow that, come what may, be it good or bad, that I would not accept the lies that I was being told, and that I would get the truth of my birth and my family.

“And here I am today [having met my siblings] – but it should not have taken so long and caused me so many restless days and nights.”

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