Northern Ireland news

Patrick Kielty travels to Washington DC for funeral of war hero uncle

Patrick Kielty wrote: `Said goodbye yesterday to an old soldier. Our Uncle Eugene, my Dad's brother.'
by Marie Louise McCrory and Bimpe Archer

COMEDIAN Patrick Kielty has travelled to Washington DC for the funeral of his uncle, a decorated war hero and Cold War spy.

The 48-year-old from Dundrum, Co Down took to social media to reveal that he had made the trip to say goodbye to "an old soldier".

Eugene Alden Lessman - also known as John James Kielty - was laid to rest with "full honours" at Arlington Cemetery.

The social media post told how he was "born in the front room on the Main Street in Dundrum".

Kielty, who is married to TV presenter Cat Deeley with whom he has two sons, said: "Laid to rest with full honours at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC.

"He was a Green Beret, two tours of Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal w Valor. Counter intelligence in Berlin during the Cold War.

"When he left the army he cut up his uniform and had no interest in telling anyone what he did. But he loved telling everyone where he was from."

Eugene Lessman `was a Green Beret, two tours of Vietnam, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Air Medal w Valor'

Eugene's death comes almost 30 years after his brother Jack, Patrick Kielty's father, was shot and killed by loyalists in Dundrum.

The presenter added: "There’s two Dundrum brothers having a pint and a catchup somewhere now. Last night their boys smiled and raised a glass to them both. RIP Eugene Alden Lessman. You were our hero."

Kielty first revealed the startling piece of family history during a 2015 appearance on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch programme.

He told how his paternal uncle used to tail people while "undercover".

Eugene Lessman `was a spy in Germany in the 1970s'

"My uncle was a spy in Germany in the 1970s," he said.

"My dad's brother was in the military for the American government and he used to be based in Munich.

"I remember going to his house in Washington DC and he had all the steins [beer glasses] from all the years at Oktoberfest.

"He was undercover, he was basically saying that all the information we give now on our mobile phones - they were spending months following people round Germany to get."

After his retirement, Mr Lessman took to writing, laying down his reminiscences in a blog `A Boy from Dundrum' and penning fantasy fiction books combining the modern military experience with Celtic/Druid tales.

John James Kielty's blog-bio said he moved to his `current small hobby farm' upon his retirement from US government service in 2001 where he lived `a quiet existence with his wife Sue'

In the blog, he wrote about how his father - Patrick Kielty's grandfather - was also in military intelligence.

"My dad was an infantry soldier in World War II who participated in the Italian campaign and later, as a `second waver' at Omaha Beach in Normandy.

"Six weeks later he was wounded in France and evacuated back to England and later to Ireland where he met my mother and… well you fill in the rest.

"Dad didn't get much a respite from the horrors of war since he was still on active duty in 1950 when he was sent to Korea for the next three years. He arrived as a Master Sergeant and left with a battlefield commission and promotion to Captain.

Eugene Lessman was `laid to rest with full honours at Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC'

"Dad made the leap to Army Intelligence soon after Korea where he continued to confront the enemies of this nation as a silent warrior."

His blog-bio said he moved to his "current small hobby farm" upon his retirement from US government service in 2001 and "now lives a quiet existence with his wife Sue, and three cats, Bear, Bart and Jake Junior".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news