Armed with a few coins they stole from a fountain, and telling their mothers that they’d be back in time for dinner (which was almost ready), Keith Byrne, 10, and Noel Murray, 13, from Darndale in Dublin set out on an adventure that would bring them the whole way to New York City through sheer determination and a whole lot of good luck.
Evading authorities and ticket inspectors in three different countries, the young friends started off their trip with a train to the town of Dun Laoghaire where they tried their hand as stowaways on a ferry bound for Holyhead in Wales.
From here, despite their lack of funds, the plucky friends somehow managed to evade the ticket collectors once again to hide away on a train to Heathrow airport.
In the days of heightened airline and airport security, their next move is the hardest to fathom, as discovering a passenger heading on an Air India flight to New York, Byrne and Murray followed the man onto his flight, convincing the flight staff that their parents were already on the plane. As the flight was half empty, the boys could take their pick from available seats without being found out.
From Darndale to New York with barely a penny to their name in one short day, that’s one hell of a bluff!
Unfortunately, after traveling across the Atlantic on a whim to see their favorite acting star, they were apprehended by the police outside JFK airport after they asked an officer for directions “into town.”
Despite falling at the final hurdle, the boys quickly became stars in the Big Apple, appearing in all of the city’s newspapers and capturing the imagination of many for their brazen attempt.
And 30 years on, Byrne and Murray, now 40 and 43, are set to return to the limelight when their incredible story is brought to the silver screen.
Director Garret Daly of Mixed Bag Media confirmed with Irish website Joe.ie that he has teamed up with screen-writer Conor Ryan to bring the true story of two young lads, who obviously made good use of their Irish charm, winging their way across the Atlantic.
Speaking to Joe.ie, Daly said “I secured the rights to the story two years ago and Conor (Ryan) has been working on the screenplay for the last six months. We went into collaboration with Keith and Noel to tease out the story and we discovered that there was so much more to tell.
“The screenplay is fantastic and it’s hilarious, which is no surprise given the story that’s it based on.
“It’s so funny. I know the story inside out now but there was so many occasions reading the screenplay that I just kept laughing and thinking - this actually happened.”
Daly also confirmed that they have had a number of studio offers for the film and that Byrne and Murray would be involved in the big screen adaptation of their younger selves.
Although the pair did not remain partners in crime as they grew up, both still live in Darndale and have agreed to help shape the story.
“It was terrific to get them together to chat about their adventures,” Daly continued.
“They hadn’t seen each other in years and suddenly they were remembering things that happened. There is so much people haven’t heard about it and it will all be in there.”
As of yet, the film has no planned schedule but Daly stated that 2016 will be a big year for the story.
The lads’ story was previously the subject of an award-winning radio documentary on RTÉ in which Byrne and Murray relive the exciting day.
“My mum said: ‘don’t go far, your dinner’s nearly ready,’ ” Byrne recalled in 2011.
“I said: ‘I won’t.’ ”.
He also remembers the flight very well. Although he couldn't handle the hot curry on the Air India flight, he remembers enjoying James Bond’s “A View to Kill.”
He enjoyed the food they were given in the five-star New York hotel they were put up in after they were stopped a lot more.
“There was BLTs, chips, everything, fed us like lords. We loved it,” said Byrne.
If you’re interested in hearing more of the story, you can here the documentary here.
Have you ever managed to bluff your way into free travel or to be let into a restricted area? We sure there are loads of other funny stories out there (though maybe not on quite the same scale). Tell us your own story in the comments section, below.