It was August 1985 and two boys from Darndale, Dublin, 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 Dún 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 flew on a plane and set out to chance their arm at meeting their hero, B. A. Baracus of The A-Team fame.
They hadn’t any luggage. Heathrow was a very 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 JFK International airport in New York. Outbound movie playing that week was the new James Bond – “A View To A Kill”.
Unfortunately, after travelling across the Atlantic on a whim to see their favourite acting star, they were apprehended by the police outside JFK airport after they asked an officer for directions “into town.”
Despite falling at the final hurdle, the boys quickly became stars in the Big Apple, appearing in all of the city’s newspapers and capturing the imagination of many for their brazen attempt.
Award-winning director Garret Daly of Mixed Bag Media and award-winning screenwriter Conor Ryan have teamed up to take on the project that is already three years in the making.
Photo: Keith Byrne with his mother, Theresa, at Coolock Garda Station, Sources: RTÉ and Joe.ie