The amazing story of how two runaway Dublin kids jumped on a commuter train in Dublin for an adventure and ended up in New York a day later has finally been told.
A radio documentary by RTE, Ireland’s national station, traces how Keith Byrne (10) and Noel Murray (13) from Darndale, a tough Dublin suburb, escaped authorities in three countries back in 1985.
Keith recalled in the interview to be broadcast today, “My mum said: ‘don’t go far, your dinner’s nearly ready,’ ” he recalled. “I said: ‘I won’t.’ ”
They jumped a commuter train to the port of Dún Laoghaire and sneaked onto a ferry bound for Holyhead in Wales.
From there they caught the train to London and connected with a subway train to Heathrow Airport.
Once there they asked a random passenger where his plane was going and he told them New York. They told the ticket checker and security their parents were behind them, and boarded the Air India plane.
“The plane was only half full so no one came near us,” Keith recalls.
Amazingly, just two months earlier, an Air India jet had blown up off the southwest of Ireland, killing 329 people.
Byrne says he was unable to eat a very hot Indian curry, but watched the James Bond film ‘A View to a Kill.’
Their journey came to an end when they left JFK Airport and asked a cop the way “into town.”
They were taken to a police station and immediately became celebrities. Their exploits made the front page of the New York newspapers. Authorities were taking no chances and they were put in a hotel suite with five security guards.
“There was BLTs, chips, everything, fed us like lords. We loved it,” said Byrne. Byrne is now 35 and Murray is 37.
Both still live in the same north Dublin suburb, but they have drifted apart.
Byrne says there is no way you could get away with such behavior now. “I don’t think there’d be any chance that you’d get away with it nowadays with everything that’s going on with the planes and the security that they have. They wouldn’t fall for that old trick of ‘my mam’s coming behind me,’” said Byrne.
He said he still has his his sense of adventure. “I love traveling to different places and me and my partner go off on drives to Kilkenny and Carlow still and bring the kids off on walks around to experience the countryside.
“I still have that kind of adventurous side to me.”
* Originally published in April 2014.
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