These Irish brothers have finally been reunited… after 78 years apart


Two long-lost brothers are set to meet for the first time after being split up almost 78 years ago.

Jimmy O'Donnell, now 80, believed he was an only child for his whole life, until he got a call this week to tell him his younger brother Frederick, 78, had been searching for him and wanted to meet. 

The men's mother Julia O'Donnell had Jimmy aged just 19, and gave birth to Frederick two years later. Both boys were born in separate mother-and-baby homes, and Julia was confined to the convent-run Magdalene Laundry in Cork shortly afterwards, where she remained for the rest of her life. Julia sadly passed away in 1996 aged 81, but in a bittersweet ending, her sons will finally meet.

Frederick's search for his roots began in 2013 with the help of one of this three daughters, Theresa Wardley. In April of this year, Theresa appealed to readers of the Herald newspaper for any information that may be out there. The search caught the attention of  Finders International, a company that tracks down relatives of people who die without making a will.

Frederick O'Donnell with his daughter Theresa Wardley

Earlier this week, researcher Amy Littlechild managed to locate Jimmy at his place of work, a pub in Cheltenham, England, just a few hours drive from Bradford, where Frederick is now settled.

Although Jimmy did meet his mother again many years before her death, he was never made aware of the fact he had a brother. Theresa described her first phone call with her long-lost uncle as a "wonderful moment."

Back in 2013, Frederick too had travelled to Cork to visit his mother's grave. "My dad put his hand on the headstone and said, 'Hello Mum'. It was so sad. He shed a few tears and it broke my heart," Theresa told the Herald. How beautiful to hear of a happy ending for this very sad tale.