The death has occurred of much-loved photographer Mel McNally, a prominent member of London’s Irish, and Longford, communities.
Mel, who passed away on Sunday 3 November after a long illness came to London in the 1950s, from a family of 12 in Longford Town, five sons and seven daughters.
His sister Rose, who lives in London, is the last surviving sibling.
Mel had worked as a photographer in Longford at the Midlands Photographic Company before he came to London where he quickly found work as a barman in the West End.
He met his beloved wife Kathleen (‘Kit), a midwife from Castleconnor, in Sligo, at an Irish dance hall. They married in Leytonstone the following year.
Kit took up a post as a midwife in Harlow, Essex in the early 1960s where she and Mel chose to spend the rest of their lives there, with their son Mal and daughter Rita, among the large Irish community there and where Mel was president of Harlow’s Irish Association for many years.
Kit passed away in 2013.
(Mel seen here with the Irish World‘s advertising manager Anne Geaghan)
In the 1970s Mel took up regular photography again and for many years worked for The Irish Post under its original owners.
His son Mal, an accomplished press photographer, said his father “absolutely loved photographing the Irish community for the 40 or so years he did it”.
Longford County Councillor Joe Flaherty led some of the many the tributes to Mel: “Saddened to hear of the death of a true living Longford legend in London town. A famous photographer, Mel McNally never forgot his Longford roots.
“He mixed freely with the London Irish community and the great and good of British society. To most of us he was simply Mel or Mac whilst for others it was always Mr McNally.”
“At the time of intense peace talks with the Irish and British government (leading to the Good Friday Agreement) he was probably the only (doubt there ever will be another) photographer on first name terms with our then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, and the British PM, John Major.
“On the morning of a historic breakthrough approximately 500 photographers filled Downing St for that elusive special shot. John Major famously walked towards the mass of cameras and called on his “good friend Mel” to come inside to take a personal photo of himself and Albert.
“Rest easy Mr McNally.”
He is survived by his sister Rose in London, his son Malcolm and daughter-in-law Sarah, daughter Rita and son-in-law John, grandchildren Erin, Katie, Thomas and Sophia and many nieces and nephews in Ireland and Britain.
Mel will, like his beloved Kit, be buried in his native Longford which named him a Longford Person of the Year in 2016. In 2009 he received an Irish World Award.