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John Joseph Gill. Birminghan City Council

Relatives of Irishman who died in England tracked down following 'last opportunity' appeal

There are two living siblings of the late John Joseph Gill, as well as three nieces and nephews.

THE RELATIVES OF an Irishman who died in England last month have been tracked down following a ‘last opportunity’ appeal for information on his next of kin.

John Joseph Gill died in the Orchard House nursing home in Birmingham on 25 November.

He was in residential and nursing homes from the beginning of 2008 until his death last month.

Yesterday, Birmingham City Council’s Ian Coxhead told RTÉ that “we’re reaching the point where for the dignity and respect towards Gill, that probably this is the last opportunity really” to locate his family.

But speaking on RTÉ’s News at One today, Erin Research’s Managing Director Padraic Grennan revealed that he has successfully made contact with Gill’s relatives.

Erin Research is an Irish probate genealogy firm and Grennan said he came across a social media post a couple of days ago seeking assistance in locating Gill’s family.

Grennan told RTÉ that he decided to look into the case on a “purely pro bono basis to see could we help out”.

He said he “realised pretty early on that the information provided by the (Birmingham City) Council was actually inaccurate”.

Birmingham City Council believed Gill to have been born in Co Roscommon on 31 August, 1936.

But Grennan discovered that Gill was actually born in Devlin in Co Westmeath and that the birth certificate was a day out.

“We looked at a couple of potential birth certificates that match Gill’s,” explained Grennan, “and we found one that was a day out, but it was actually in Delvin, Co Westmeath.

“So we went with that and researched it and figured out pretty early on that once we had the birth certificate, we could unravel the family tree and work on trying to find his next of kin.”

Grennan described the birth certificate as the “root” to allow Erin Research to begin its work.

From Gill’s birth certificate, Erin Research were able to find the marriage certificate of Gill’s parents.

“Then we could look for siblings of Gill or other children of that marriage,” said Grennan, “and we identified seven different children in total, including John Gill.

“So at that stage then it was simply a case of trying to ascertain whether these people are alive or deceased.”

There are two living siblings of Gill, as well as three nieces and nephews.

Grennan said he spoke with a brother of Gill’s in Canada yesterday evening, and that he “basically verified all of the information that we had”.

Grennan also spoke with a niece of Gill’s and revealed that “ironically” she is also in Birmingham.

“You can imagine her surprise when she learned that her estranged uncle lived only a stone’s throw from her, and she didn’t even know he was there.”

Speaking yesterday, Ian Coxhead of Birmingham City Council said that Gill had expressed a wish to be buried.

Grennan said he is in the process of sharing the next of kin’s details with the council.

He added: “I understand the council is registering the death formally next Tuesday, which means they can proceed with the burial and it’s nice to be able to say we will at least have some family members there for Mr Gill when he gets his send off.”

When asked why Erin Research became involved in the case, Grennan said: “When I saw the last appeal out… this is an Irishman abroad who could have ended up in what’s known as a pauper’s grave.

“So we decided to have a look purely on a pro bono basis to see could we help out, and thankfully from our perspective it wasn’t a difficult case and we were able to find somebody pretty quickly.”

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