Patrick Joseph Kelly

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For other people named Patrick Kelly, see Patrick Kelly (disambiguation).
Patrick Kelly
Vol Patrick kelly.jpg
Born 19 March 1957
Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Died 8 May 1987 (aged 30)
Loughgall, County Armagh Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Allegiance Provisional Irish Republican Army
Years of service c. 1974-1987
Rank Officer Commanding
Unit East Tyrone Brigade
Battles/wars The Troubles

Patrick Joseph Kelly (19 March 1957 – 8 May 1987), was the commander of the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army during the mid-1980s until his death in a Special Air Service ambush at Loughgall, County Armagh in May 1987.[1][2]


The oldest child in a Catholic family of five, Kelly was born in the largely Protestant town of Carrickfergus. However, he was brought up in Dungannon, a rural market town in County Tyrone. The Kelly family had a long tradition of Irish republicanism. See: Liam Kelly (Irish republican).

Paramilitary activities[edit]

Kelly became a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army at the beginning of the 1970s and gradually became one of the most experienced volunteers in Tyrone.

He was arrested in February 1982 on the word of an informant called Patrick McGurk but was released in October 1983 due to lack of evidence after a trial that lasted fifteen minutes.[3]

In 1985, Kelly became brigade commander in East Tyrone and began developing tactics for attacking secluded Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) bases in his area. Under his leadership the East Tyrone Brigade became the most active IRA unit in Northern Ireland.[4][5][6]

In 1986, Kelly attended the IRA Army Convention where the main topic of discussion was the principle of abstentionism. Gerry Adams and others argued the abstentionist rule should be dropped and the Provisional movement should become involved in constitutional politics. Kelly voted against dropping the rule and a rift with the majority of the IRA Army Council ensued.[5]

Loughall ambush[edit]

Main article: Loughgall Ambush

Patrick Kelly was killed in an action by the SAS on 8 May 1987 while he was participating in an attack on Loughgall RUC barracks which also led to the deaths of seven other IRA members: Pádraig McKearney, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Jim Lynagh, and Gerard O'Callaghan. Kelly's funeral in Dungannon was one of the largest in Tyrone during The Troubles.[7][8][9]

Kelly was buried in Edendork cemetery, two miles from his home in Dungannon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 290. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2. 
  2. ^ CAIN Web Service
  3. ^ Dáil Éireann Parliamentary Debates - Volume 354 - 4 December 1984, Private Members' Business. - Northern Ireland Supergrass Trials
  4. ^ Coogan, Tim (2000). The I.R.A. Harper Collins. p. 575. ISBN 0-00-653155-5. 
  5. ^ a b Moloney, Ed (2002). A Secret History of the IRA. Penguin Books. p. 307. ISBN 0-14-101041-X. 
  6. ^ Henry McDonald. " True tale of IRA 'martyrs' revealed", The Guardian, 2002-09-29. Retrieved on 2007-02-08
  7. ^ Paul Gallagher (4 May 2001). "IRA deaths: The four shootings". BBC. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  8. ^ IRA deaths: Full judgement
  9. ^ Judgments in the cases of Hugh Jordan, McKerr, Kelly and Others