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16 October 2014
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GI Brides
in Kilkeel

Do you know anyone in this picture?

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After World War 2 many people started new lives. The photo below, taken in the mid 1940s, shows a scene from a farewell dinner which was held in the Royal Hotel in Kilkeel. The group in the picture is comprised of GI Brides and some friends.

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939
Photograph showing  farewell dinner in Kilkeel for GI Brides (Photo by Pat Hudson, courtesy fo Down ounty Museum)
Photo appears courtesy of Pat Hudson & Down County Museum


Do you recognise any of the women in the picture above? Do you know where they went? Do you perhaps even know where any of them are now?

If so, please do let us know by filling in the form below.

The picture above was kindly contributed to Your Place & Mine by the Down County Museum and it also appears in its 2005 Year book.

Relevant web links:

GIs' visit to Co.Down after 63 years

WWII Buildings in N. Ireland

The Americans in Caledon Co. Tyrone

See more WWII stories here on YP&M

Your responses...

Wilfred Cromie - Feb '07
I think the fourth lady on the right is Lily Nollen of Harbour Road, Kilkeel.  I remember she used to baby sit for my mother. But away back in or about 1963 in Kilkeel Town Centre I was sitting on my Lambretta Scooter when suddenly a lady rushed down the steps and asked my name, and I said Wilfred Cromie, then she said "I know you." She said do you remember me?  I said sort of. I am Lily she said, I am just back from America for a short break then off again.  Does any one out there know her where-abouts now?

Samantha Mitchell - Feb '07
I am best friends with Louise Caira who is the daughter of Vincent and grandaughter of Laura.She always told me she looked like her Grandmother and I can see she really does. Although she is not in contact with her father Vincent since a young girl she has talked about him and I will show her this picture.Does anyone have email addresses for Vincent or Louisa???

Charlie McBurney - Aug '06
Hi Vincent And Luisa - Yes the lady 2nd in from the right is my dear aunt Laura Caira, nee Rossi. She is the sister of my Mother Teresa Rossi McBurney, who well could be the Lady at the head of the table on the left.

My father Charlie McBurney was the civilian Camp barber at Cranfield air base during part of the war.Great to see the photo of her.

Vincent Caira - April '06
What an amazing picture. my mother is [ laura caira, formally rossi ] is sitting 2nd right on the picture. sadly she passed away in december 05. she would have been 90 today. she eventually married my father and they lived in edinburgh where myself and brother and sister were born. we all eventually moved back to ireland and my mother and father moved back to kilkeel. i now live in england my brother in scotland but my sister lives in newry just 23 miles from kilkeel.

Luisa Phillips - April '06
I was delighted to see this photo of my grandmother Laura Caira (nee Rossi) who is situated second on the right of this picture. Her family owned Rossi's Ice-Cream parlour on the Harbour Road and she was the youngest of the family. She was not married at this time but was engaged to an American soldier. A few years later she married my grandfather Michael Caira and eventually settled in Abbey Park, Kilkeel where they lived for 30 years. My grandmother often spoke of Catherine Hudson and remained friends with her as they used to play tennis together in their younger days. She would have loved to see this picture so much but sadly she passed away in December 2005, aged 89, just eight months after my grandfather.

However it has been brilliant to see this photo!

Mary Mclaughlin nee Kearney - April '06
It was lovely to see this photo and to see my two aunts in it mary and sybil kearney. my name also is mary kearney my married name is mc laughlin, these were my da's sisters. i have always been told that i am the double of aunt sybil (hope so as she was beautiful). So harold, if u see this contact me as ur my cousin... haha... my email address is purplemickdog at

Charles Spinks - Margaret Spinks nee Peggy Gorman - Jan '06
Surprise, surprise - after all these years this picture pops up. A friend, Elish O'Hagan currently living in Michigan called over the holidays to tell my mother that she had seen her picture on the internet at a g.i. bride dinner at the Royal. I managed to find the site - and sure enough, my mother is included. At first I thought she was the second person on the left, and it is still possible, but looking closer, we think she is the 6th person on the right. Peggy Gorman of Newry street Kilkee. We came to the states in 1946, my mother is or was friends with many in the photo and some we visited here in the states, some have passed on---my mother is still alive, thank god, and we both have made several trips back to Kilkeel over the years. Her brother Jim Gorman, Scrogg Rd, sisters May McCord and Adeline Bradley have passed on but there are still several neices in Kilkeel. Would certainly be good to hear from anyone...

Anne Rice otherwise LillyWray-McCann - Dec '05
What an interesting picture. I went to Dunavan school with Sybil Kearney, and Mary Kearney worked for my parents I think. They lived beside the electric plant, later the NAAFI.
I too married a yank who was in the 10th Infantry.
I flew on a Pan Am plane from Limerick.
My husband and I returned to Kilkeel a few years ago but so many of my contemporaries had emigrated all over the world. There is no place like Mourne.

Harold Knapp Jr - Dec '05
I have the same picture with all the names on the back. My mother is the 5th one on the left, Mary Kearney. Sybil her sister is next to her (or the 6th person on the left.) The first one on the left is Peggy Gorman.

Catherine Hudson - June 05
I have been told that the 3rd on left is Patricia (Donnan) Ermilio from Newry Street, Kilkeel (deceased) U.S.A.

YP&M Editor: Catherine - please would you write to us again and let us have your email address... would like to exchange some details with you if possible...


Michael - April '05
Third on the left is my mother Michelle Hamilton from Newcastle.

Catherine Hudson - April '05
first on right annie rooney nee marks

second on right laura ciaria nee rossi

third on right ellie curran nee donnan

second on left madeline cole

Elaine Halpert Sperber - March 05
I can't really tell from this photo if my mother is included here or not, however she was definitely a GI War Bride from Kilkeel who married my American father in 1945 and went over to California on the Queen Mary. Her name was Ellen Baird Halpert, and sadly she's no longer alive or I could ask her myself.

However my aunt Lillian Baird still resides in the house where my mother and grandparents lived -on Leitrim Hill.

How lovely to see this photo!


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