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Liam Kelly, Republican, 1920 – 2011 June 9, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, The Left.

Just heard that Liam Kelly, Irish Republican, died this week.

Kelly had a remarkable life as a member of the IRA in the 1940s, a founder of Saor Uladh in the early 1950s, an elected abstentionist MP to Stormont and a Senator in Seanad Éireann.

You can read more about his life here. It appears that in the 1960s and 1970s he was more closely associated with the Republican Clubs, becoming chair of the organisation in the United States.

A tribute from Sinn Féin can be found here.


1. RepublicanSocialist1798 - June 10, 2011

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. Lived to a good age.

Whatever happened to Saor Uladh – I thought they were active up until the early sixties?


Gael Eoghain - June 10, 2011

Saor Uladh Volunteers were active in the Tyrone, Monaghan and Armagh areas until early 1973.
After discussions between founding members of Provisional IRA a number of actjve Saor Uladh Vol’s alligned with PIRA.
South Tyrone Comhairle Ceanntair Provisional Sinn Fein also established a new cumann in Altamuskin at that time.
Some of those who facilitated the discussions and participated, representing both organisations, are still alive.
Saor Uladh volunteers proceeded to make significant contributions to the PIRA campaign in subsequent years.
Some were captured and imprisoned and others were killed on active service. Some are still alive.


WorldbyStorm - June 11, 2011

This is a remarkable relatively unknown history. It would be great if someone were to follow it up. It deserves to be told.


2. ciaran mc clean - June 10, 2011

When asked to shake the hand of Gerry Adams at his nephew Patricks funeral in 1986 Liam Kelly replied ” i didn’t fly 3000 miles to shake hands with a fascist”. Any Shinner who would try and dine out on the death of Mr Kelly should rememeber what he thought of Mr Adams and Sinn Fein!


Gael Eoghain - June 12, 2011

My initial reaction to your comment was to ignore. On calm reflection I wish to put your version in context and in the interests of providing a more accurate reflection of the esteem in which Liam Kelly is and was regarded.
I’ve heard it before, but not from the late Liam Kelly. I have heard the story pedalled by others who didn’t even claim to be there.
I was present in the room when the two men met that morning before the funeral left the house. I did not hear those words so I can’t confirm or deny your version.
I can however state unequivocally that Liam Kelly attended the funeral of Vol Jim Lynagh in Monaghan Cathedral that same week.
Liam Kelly met, sympathised with and spoke to many who were present at that funeral.
Amonst those with whom he spoke at length were leading members and public representatives of the Provisional Republican movement, (Sinn Féin & IRA).
Ciaran, I appreciate you may be at a remove both geographically and in terms of age. It would be a grave dis-service to the memory of Liam Kelly to suggest that he allowed political disagreement to cause him to be impolite..


Gael Eoghain - June 18, 2011

For the record, in the interest of accuracy;
Liam Kelly was born 29 September 1922 and died 7 June 2011.


bobbyowens - July 5, 2011

hi ciaran its a true story about kelly and adams meeting
well how is ur father paddy tell him i send him my regards he knows me.bobbyowens


3. Joe - June 10, 2011

It’s all very complicated. If he made that comment, he made it at the funeral of his nephew who was PIRA. And that Wiki piece. Kind of eerie. East Tyrone going it alone. God help us.


4. Jock McPeake - June 10, 2011

Liam Kelly was a noble republican who realised the futility of abstaining from the structures of the Free State in the early 1950s. For this he was roundly abused by the mainstream republican movement and, shamefully, attempts were made to physically intimidate him and his supporters. Fianna Uladh and Saor Uladh were never just Tyrone organisations, and Liam McMillen and Des O’Hagan among others were members for periods in the 1950s. Saor Uladh also had a working relationship with the Dublin breakway group of Joe Christle.
After Liam went to New York he remained in touch with Tyrone republicans and after 1969 returned to lend a hand. He met Cathal Goulding in New York in 1969 and provided invaluable aid to the movement between 1969-75. A relative of Liam’s played an important role in north Belfast during dangerous times and is highly respected to this day.
Liam also formed his own Connie Green club in Manhattan, made up of bus and subway workers, who supported the Irish Republican Clubs of the US and Canada. Unlike some in Ireland, Liam Kelly was personally able to maintain links with many of different views. Some of his family in Ireland did join the Provisionals and one, Patrick, was killed at Loughall in 1987.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


5. Sean P - June 10, 2011

I only met him a few times but always found Liam Kelly to be a true gentleman, very tolerant of younger IRC members, many of whom had no idea of his history or long commitment to Irish Republicanism. More tributes in the guestbook:



6. RepublicanSocialist1798 - June 10, 2011

Sounds a little strange allright especially given the fact that his nephew was a PIRA volunteer.

Goes without saying; wikipedia can sometimes be a bit unreliable.

How long was he associated with the Republican Clubs?


7. Captain Rock - June 10, 2011

Several of his nephews were involved in both the Official and Provisional IRAs. The worst thing that happens when someone does is the rush to claim them: Kelly’s career defies easy labels. Clann na Poblachta could claim him if they wanted.


WorldbyStorm - June 11, 2011



8. Jackson Way - June 11, 2011

@10 are you for real? OIRA/PIRA extended families are the norm


Seoirse MacDomhnail - June 11, 2011

Very true, Jackson, as all of us in the know know, often to our grief. Anyway, I knew Liam Kelly well, and yer man above is right when he says you cannot apply easy labels to him. His career as a Republican was without precedent. He was conservative in some regards, radicial in others. I will say this much in summing him up, however…he was a great man, a brave man, a man with a huge heart and huge personality. He was never afraid to try something different as a way forwards. Yet he always remained true to the ideals of Tone and Connolly. Proud to have known you, friend.


9. Jim Monaghan - June 13, 2011

I think Gery Lawless was involved with the Christle group which in turn worked with Saor Uladh.


10. Jock McPeake - June 16, 2011

Funeral mass for Liam Kelly this Sunday 19, 11am in Monaghan town.


Seoirse MacDomhnaill - June 17, 2011

Wake Saturday at 3 Mullaghdun, Monaghan. Funeral Mass at the Cathedral, Monaghan, actually at 12:30 followed by burial in Pomeroy, Co. Tyrone


11. Captain Rock - June 20, 2011

A little mention of the funeral below. Was there any coverage in the national press of former MP/Senator Liam Kelly?



12. Seoirse MacDomhnaill - June 23, 2011

Not much. Apparently Irish News did a spread on Kelly prior to his funeral. I have not seen it as yet. His funeral was well attended, some 800 according to what I have heard. Old comrades from the IRA and Saor Uladh in attendance including Mick Ryan.


13. …Back Home In Derry « An Sionnach Fionn - August 13, 2011

[…] Liam Kelly, Republican, 1920 – 2011 (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]


14. 11 Sixty Nine And Counting….. :: ORANGE ORDER , 1796-2013 : SAME SECTARIANISM AND DAVID NORRIS - TO GO ‘FURTHER’. :: July :: 2013 - July 24, 2013

[…] with his own bomb in the summer of that year. Another, Liam Kelly, founded a breakaway group ‘Saor Uladh‘ (’Free Ulster’) and in November 1955, attacked a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) […]



[…] with his own bomb in the summer of that year. Another, Liam Kelly, founded a breakaway group ‘Saor Uladh‘ (‘Free Ulster’) and in November 1955, attacked a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) […]


16. 1955, DUBLIN – A CHILD WAS BORN INTO A FAMILY OF SIX ON NOVEMBER 28TH THAT YEAR…… | 11sixtynine - July 16, 2014

[…] with his own bomb in the summer of that year. Another, Liam Kelly, founded a breakaway group ‘Saor Uladh‘ (‘Free Ulster’) and in November 1955, attacked a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) […]


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