Local man John Kelly from Inishowen Gardens shares this fascinating family photograph of his own father standing proudly among a group of dockers who had created history as they sailed up the River Foyle.
Speaking to the ‘Derry Journal’, Mr Kelly reveals: “This is actually the first boat to ever come up the Foyle flying the Tricolour on 10 March 1948. My father, Tommy Kelly, is in the very centre of the photo wearing overalls and aged about 22, and my wife’s granddad Jim McGuinness is among them too.”
The coal boat had come from Dublin and the group of dockers sailed it up the Foyle, its Tricolour fluttering proudly in the breeze, and anchored at the train station in the Waterside.
“I remember my father telling me about it,” Mr Kelly says. “When they landed near the train station, a crowd gathered because of the flag flying.
“The B-Specials then appeared and demanded they take the flag down, but the men refused because the boat was still in Irish waters! They couldn’t touch it.
“When they unloaded the boat, all the men posed for the camera and that’s when this photo was taken.”
Pic in Journal
The original photograph was printed in the ‘Derry Journal’ that same week in March 1948. “The photo was always framed on my father’s sitting room wall, and I have owned it since he gave it to me about 25 years ago, which means it must have been in the family for half-a century. Maybe we will donate it to a museum when the time comes,” Mr Kelly added.