Another connection to Ballykelly comes through the ancestry of the Noble Peace Prize winner for Literature, John Steinbeck (1902-1968), one of
Steinbeck's maternal grandfather was Samuel Hamilton who was born in Ballykelly in 1830 and baptised in the
John Steinbeck and his wife Elaine visited Ballykelly on 18th August,1952 to discover where his ancestors had come from and to try and find any surviving members locally. At first they went to the Presbyterian church graveyard where his grandfather had been baptised. Eventually they discovered the Hamilton headstones in Tamlaghtfinlagan Parish Church and one marking Elizabeth (Minnie)
Minnie was the daughter of Samuel Hamilton's brother, William John Hamilton and Jane Ritchie. In his article ‘I go back to Ireland’ which was published in 1953 in Colliers Magazine, a photograph shows John Steinbeck crouching beside the two Hamilton headstones.
Lining the wall at the far end of the church grounds, a row of military headstones tell their own stories of young men who lost their lives and were associated with the airbase which was operational during the second world war.
Young men like G.W. Gerring and W.G. Wallace who were returning from a long maritime patrol over the Northwestern Approaches, on arriving at Ballykelly found the base and area hidden in thick midst. The Liberator running low on fuel was heard circling overhead, on the third pass it crashed in bad visibilty on Binevenagh mountain with the loss of all the crew (Captained by Pilot Officer I B Jenkins, was 2nd Pilot: Warrant Officer G.F. Logan; Navigator: W/O R.R.J. Revell; Sgts W.H. Wilson, H.G. Lewis; W/Os G.W. Geering, W.G. Wallace; Flt Sgt H.G. Coombes).
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