Two fam­i­lies searched for the same man at same time

The Argus - - NEWS - BY MAR­GARET RODDY

‘He was a good man and a good hus­band to me. Peo­ple have said, aren’t you an­noyed, but I knew I had a good man and fa­ther and that he did what he did to pro­tect me,’ says Julie Dello about dis­cov­er­ing that the man she had mar­ried had given her a false name and his­tory.

Thanks to the dogged de­tec­tive work of lo­cal am­a­teur ge­neal­o­gist Jim Ker­ley, Julie has been able to trace her hus­band’s his­tory and fam­ily to Dun­dalk, where last week she met up with his grand niece Si­mone and other rel­a­tives, as well as those who had helped in the search.

Lynn Dello, as Julie had known him, or Leo McEvoy as he was born, died sud­denly in 1981 and she spent many years search­ing for his Ir­ish fam­ily.

It was in De­cem­ber last year that she got the phone call from Jim Ker­ley telling her that he had found her hus­band’s fam­ily in Dun­dalk.

‘He was a good hus­band to me, he gave up his fam­ily for me,’ she says of the man she had met shortly af­ter he had cre­ated a new iden­tity so he could join the Bri­tish Army. ‘He served in the army with an un­blem­ished record.’

Never once did he let it slip that he hadn’t been raised with in a foster fam­ily in Dun­dalk but grown up and gone to school in Durham, in the north of Eng­land with his par­ents, Michael McEvoy from Dun­dalk and mother Alice from Co Ty­rone, his brother Jimmy and sis­ter Rose.

She ac­cepts that once he had told her his in­vented his­tory, there was no way he could go back, as she would prob­a­bly have walked away.

One of the last pho­to­graphs his fam­ily had of him was when he was best man for his brother Jimmy when he mar­ried Brid­get Maguire.

Jimmy and Brid­get came to live in Dun­dalk in 1980 and their grand daugh­ter Si­mone Foster says that he spent 31 years look­ing for a dead man af­ter all com­mu­ni­ca­tion ceased.

‘He thought his brother had died and I even went to Eng­land search­ing for death cer­tifi­cates but couldn’t find any.’

Si­mone, who came to live with her grand­par­ents, says Jimmy died won­der­ing what had hap­pened to his younger brother.

‘I’m prob­a­bly a wee bit miffed that Leo never sent a post­card to say that he was al­right and that they weren’t to worry about him.’

‘His mother Alice was still alive when he dis­ap­peared so she also died with­out know­ing where he was, if he was alive or dead.’

At the same time as Julie was search­ing for rel­a­tives of her dead hus­band, Si­mone was look­ing for in­for­ma­tion about her grand­fa­ther’s brother.

How­ever, they were search­ing for men with dif­fer­ent names and even dif­fer­ent dates of birth, as Lynn Dello had said he was two years younger when he joined the army.

When Si­mone got a phone call from Jim Ker­ley, who had traced Lynn Dello to the McEvoy fam­ily in Dun­dalk, she was happy to help with his re­quest for in­for­ma­tion.

‘As soon as she showed me a pho­to­graph of her grand un­cle Leo I knew that was our man,’ says Jim.

He put Julie and Si­mone in con­tact each other and they have spent much time fill­ing in the gaps in the fam­ily his­tory.

Si­mone’s big re­gret is that the break­through came too late for her grand­fa­ther to find out what had hap­pened to his brother, as he had passed away in Novem­ber 2015, a year be­fore the mys­tery was solved.

Dur­ing her visit here, Julie was de­lighted to fi­nally meet with her hus­band’s rel­a­tives and to visit the places he would have known. ‘I went to Dow­dall­shill, saw the Lis­doo Arms, the Adel­phi, and the Dow­daller’s where he played snooker. I have walked a mile in his shoes.’

‘It was very, very im­por­tant for me to do that, and I have found my son’s cousins.’

Jimmy, Mum and Leo (Lynn).

Jimmy’s wed­ding, with Leo (Lynn) on the left.

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