BY HELEN RIDDELL
AN American woman is desperately trying to seek her Eyeries born father’s childhood friends – so she can return letters sent to him from the two friends while they served in Korea with the US Army.
Debbie Kelly, a resident of Florida, is the daughter of the late Timothy Patrick Kelly of Pullincha, Eyeries, Beara. Her father joined the Irish Army at the age of 18, attaining the rank of corporal before emigrating to New York.
His two childhood friends Timothy ‘Frank’ O’Neill and Donal Harrington from Eyeries also served with him in the Irish Army before they, too, emigrated to the USA where they went onto join the US Army.
Both men went on to serve in Korea where tragically, Donal was killed. His remains were brought home to Eyeries, where he was laid to rest in Gortnabulliga Cemetery.
While sorting through her late father’s belongings, Debbie came across a number of letters which the two men had written to her father while they were in Korea, and is eager to return them to the men’s families.
‘Daddy passed away in 2012 at the age of 90. He was a wonderful man. I came across several letters from both men to my father which he had kept all these decades. The letters are heart-breaking in places, but also full of fun and reminiscing,’ she said.
Debbie wants to return the letters to the men’s families and has being trying to trace them for a number of years.
‘I am trying to trace their descendants to return these letters to the families as I feel they should have them. I think that would make both my father and the families very happy. I have had no luck with tracing them via Facebook which is why I reached out to The Southern Star,’ she said.
Before the pandemic Debbie was a regular visitor to the Beara peninsula. ‘My brother and I have a house in Ardgroom which we visited regularly over the years and we are looking forward to when we can visit again,’ she told The Southern Star.
She believes Donal Harrington’s family are still in the Beara area, but thinks Timothy O’Neill later married and settled in Cork city on his return from Korea.
‘It would mean the world to me if I could make contact with Donal’s and Timothy’s families,’ she said.
Anybody who may have further information on the men’s families, can contact Debbie via The Southern Star at [email protected]