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Sir Samuel Kelly

Coal Importer and Philanthropist 1897-1937
Sir Samuel Kelly

Samuel Kelly was born in 94 Castlereagh Street Belfast, in 1867.  His father was John Kelly, the founder of the John Kelly Coal Company.  Following his father's death in 1904, Samuel suceeded to the business and continued to expand the Kelly fleet.

In 1921 Samuel purchased the Annageher Colliery near Coalisland and production commenced in 1924.  He employed 200 miners from mainland UK and Scotland and purpose built a housing estate in Newtownstewart to house them.  In addition, he purchased 2 spinning and weaving companies to provide work for the miners' wives.  However, the venture failed adn in 1926 he was forced to close down the mine and lost in the region of £300,000.  During the General Strike he ensured the supply of coal to the province, by sourcing it from the USA and Europe.

In 1922 he received a knighthood.  He was described as a "Leading merchant, a public benefactor, a consistent and generous supporter of charitable objects".  His many donations included the building of 2 churches in Holywood.

Sir Samuel was Deputy Lieutenant of Co Tyrone, Vice-President of the Belfast Chamber of Commerce and an active member of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.  He was chairman of the Ulster Fireclay Company, The Tyrone Brickworks and Coalisland Weaving Company.  He owned the Cumberland Mine Company and the St Helen's Colliery.

Sir Samuel died on 9 February 1937.  His wife made many bequests following his death, including in 1950 the cost of the Donaghadee Lifeboat, which was named the Sir Samuel Kelly.  The family home at Holywood is now the Salvation Army's "Sir Samuel Kelly Memorial Eventide Home"