Belfast Telegraph

Journalist Kelly dies aged 100

Veteran Belfast journalist James Kelly has died aged 100.

With a life spanning the aftermath of Dublin's 1916 Easter Rebellion and the culmination of Northern Ireland's peace process in power-sharing almost a century later, the Falls Road writer was a legendary figure in Irish journalism.

His final opinion piece was published in the Irish News on his birthday in May.

Irish News editor Noel Doran said: "He is a legend of Irish journalism beyond doubt, the longest-serving columnist on these islands, a person whose life story was closely associated with the history of the Irish News and the history of the entire country."

Mr Kelly covered the most significant moments in Northern Ireland's history, from the Belfast Blitz to the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Doran said his colleague could remember the impact of the 1916 Battle of the Somme on grieving relatives as well as the damage from Dublin's Easter Rising, which led to independence.

He joined the Irish News as a rookie reporter in the late 1920s, later moving to the Irish Press newspaper of revolutionary leader Eamon de Valera before spending half a century at the Irish Independent group. He returned to the Irish News on retirement as a regular Saturday columnist.

Mr Doran said he had a particular association with Northern Ireland's parliament at Stormont, covering its opening in 1932 and the entire history of the legislature until it was prorogued in 1972. He also wrote about the fire which burned Stormont's Assembly chamber in 1995 and returned when devolution was restored in 1999.

National Union of Journalists Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said Mr Kelly was the uncrowned king of Irish journalism.

He is survived by three daughters and predeceased by his wife Eileen.

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