Tuesday 16 January 2018

After 80 years thinking he was an only child, Jimmy is ready to meet his long-lost brother

A story in the Herald helped reunite brothers Frederick (left) and Jimmy O'Donnell
A story in the Herald helped reunite brothers Frederick (left) and Jimmy O'Donnell

Alan O'Keeffe

An 80-year-old man who believed all his life he was an only child has received confirmation this week he has a 78-year-old brother.

Dublin-born Jimmy O'Donnell received a telephone call yesterday from his long lost brother Frederick's daughter, Theresa, who asked him if she could call him "Uncle Jimmy".

"It was a wonderful moment," Theresa Wardley said.

The two brothers will meet for the first time in their lives thanks to a story in the Herald and the successful efforts of company Finders International.

The brothers were born in separate mother-and-baby homes in Dublin in the 1930s. Jimmy was brought up in an orphanage in Wicklow, while Frederick spent eight years in Artane Industrial School.

Their Dublin-born mother Julia ended up being confined to a convent-run Magdalen Laundry in Cork when Frederick was just 18 months old. She spent her entire life at the convent and died there at the age of 81 in 1996.

Neither of her sons were told of each other's existence. Frederick married and raised a family in Bradford. Jimmy never married.

Frederick, who has no memory of his mother, only discovered she had given birth to another child when his family began to do some family research in recent times.

Theresa appealed to Herald readers last April for anyone who could help them discover if Jimmy was still alive or knew where he lived.

The Herald story was seen by Finders International, a company that tracks down relatives of people who die without making a will.

Its researcher Amy Littlechild (27) told how after extensive work she managed to track down Jimmy on Wednesday at his place of work at a pub in Cheltenham.

Theresa said last night: "My dad said that, no matter what happens in future, he feels his life is complete now and he is so looking forward to meeting Uncle Jimmy."

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