Keith Byrne with his mother,
Theresa, at Coolock Garda
Station in 1985.
(photo: Dermot O’Shea,
The Irish Times
Dublin in August 1985 and two boys aged 10 and 13 hop on a DART train for a ride that will take them a few thousand miles beyond their stop.
Keith and Noel were friends. They had a knack for bunking off. One day they hopped on a Dart and skipped out to Dun Laoghaire for a laugh. Nothing there but boats and day trippers. So they snuck on a ferry and went to Holyhead. They’d been there before. The last time they’d been spotted and sent packing. This time they made if off the boat and bunked on to the train to London. Back home their dinners were getting cold.
They got talking to a fellow voyager who admired their skills and offered them a meal and a sofa for the night in the family home. Then he dropped them back to the London station. They saw a tube for Heathrow and figured they might fly home. Keith and Noel were used to getting trains and buses and ferries. This wasn’t their first adventure. They’d been to Butlins, they’d been all over. Keith used to bunk off school and go on little adventures. But they’d never taken a plane.
They hadn’t any luggage to speak off. Heathrow was a pretty big place for a 10 year old, but no one bothered them, no one asked to see their tickets. Keith and Noel just walked on through the checkpoints telling anyone who needed to know that their mum was just behind them. That’s all. Straight through Heathrow international airport with nothing but a few coins they’d nicked from the charity fountain. Dead easy.
The lads asked a passenger where his plane was going. He said New York. Keith looked at Noel. Noel looked at Keith. In for a penny. Surely someone would stop them. Someone did. They told them they were sitting in their seats. The lads got up and moved down to the back of the plane, an Air India Boeing 747, just like the one that had blown up off the Irish coast two months before killing everyone on board. Security was tight. Someone was going to twig it.
Then the doors closed, the plane moved away from its gate. A few minutes later Keith and Noel were taking off in to the London sky bound for JF Kennedy International airport in New York. Outbound movie playing that week was the new James Bond - “A View To A Kill”.
First broadcast Saturday 21st August, 6.05pm
Produced by: Paul Russell with Ronan Kelly
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.