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History of the Kelly Kettle

Brothers Patrick & Seamus Kelly (Company Directors), are proud to be the fourth generation of 'Kelly's' to bring you their popular kettles and camping equipment. Following in the footsteps of their father Padraic, grandfather Jim & great-grandfather Patrick, the Kelly brothers continue to develop the 'Kelly Kettle' Brand and bring you new and exciting products & equipment.

The 1890's

The first kettle dates back to the 1890's to a small farm on the shores of Lough Conn, County Mayo, Ireland, when a young Patrick Kelly (Great grandfather of the current directors of the company), a small farmer and fisherman, developed his first kettle from Tin after a cold winter of tinkering and experimenting in a shed. The kettle worked extremely well but burned out from regular use on Lough Conn when Patrick was fishing for Trout & Salmon the following summer. After going through a number of Tin kettles, he developed the kettle in copper and this was found to be much more durable. News of his kettle spread among local anglers and it received wonderous and envious looks from anglers visiting from the U.K.

The 1950's

Patricks son, Jim (Grandfather of the current directors of the company) became a famous angler & boatman on Lough Conn. Renowned for his speed at boiling water in the kettle, Jim always had a kettle with him when fishing. The Kelly Kettle was now becoming popular with fishermen in the west of Ireland where the speedy kettle produced boiling water for hot drinks on wet & windy days, a specialty of Ireland. At this time, the business was still only a 'hobby' during the winter and there was only one size kettle (what would now be the 1.42Ltr 'Base Camp' Kettle), and these were only ever made to order.

The 1970's

Faster & cheaper transport brought ever-increasing visitor numbers to Ireland throughout the 1970's & 1980's. As a result, more and more visiting anglers, primarily from the U.K. & Germany, were exposed to the Kelly Kettle for the first time. With increasing numbers of visiting anglers requesting the kettle to be added to their camping gear, it became apparent that something needed to be done with regards to increasing the production of the kettle. In the 1970's Padraic Kelly (father of the current directors) implemented modern manufacturing techniques and the company started to move away from its 'Cottage Industry' origins. Over time a second size Aluminium kettle was produced (the small 'Trekker' 1 Pint / 0.57Ltr model) and aluminium cook sets were added. It was still a very small family business, but with Padraics reputation as boatman and angler on Lough Conn and his regular appearance as a member of the Irish Trout Fly-Fishing team, word of the Kettle as essential camping equipment / gear, started to spread quickly.  With the advent of the Internet, news of the Kelly Kettle started to spread across the globe to the U.S., Canada, S. Africa, and eventually Australia!

The Present

Patrick & Seamus took over the helm of the Kelly Kettle Company in 2005 and brought their respective Commercial Banking & International Marketing experiences to bear on the business. After listening to the feedback from customers, and after significant investment, the Pot-Support, Medium 'Scout' Aluminium Kettle & Stainless Steel 'Base Camp' (1.5Ltr) Kettle and Stainless Steel Cook Sets, were all introduced.  

Some things never change!

The tradition of using the kettle as a method of boiling water at lunchtime, goes back to the 1890's in the West Coast of Ireland and the design has changed little since it was first introduced. Lough Conn was, and still is, famous for its free rising brown trout and fresh run Salmon from the River Moy system. The lake provided (and still provides) ample fuel for use in the kettle, where washed up twigs, sticks and dried grass were easily available. On wet & stormy days, the local angling guides would keep watch for the small pillar of smoke on the lake shore which indicated that a colleague already had a 'brew' on! A hot cup of tea or soup awaited anyone who landed and the Kettle would be repeatedly boiled as additional boats laden with anglers arrived. Tradition dictates that both the angling guide and his guests together would gather dry tinder for the kettle from the lake shore. Then, the guide will set about boiling up the kettle which always amazed guests as it works even in the height of a storm! The Anglers will then be offered their fresh tea from the Kelly Kettle and in return for his hospitality, the boatman/guide received lunch and perhaps a drop of whiskey from the anglers!

The Kelly family still provide a Boat Hire & Ghillie service on Lough Conn. Visiting anglers are as intrigued today as they were some hundred years ago with the speed at which the water can be boiled and through word of mouth, these anglers have spread the word about the kettles worldwide. To this day, the Kelly-Kettle / Volcano-Kettle is still the centerpiece in any campsite. If you have seen one in action, you will understand why!

Pictured above, the late Jim Kelly (grandfather of Patrick and Seamus, seated center) enjoys lunch on Lough Conn with a party of Welsh angler in 1964.

Padraig Kelly (seated left) in 1985


Some other famous people also enjoy the Kelly Kettle. 
Increasingly gaining in popularity, our Kelly Kettles are now sold all over the world from the USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Asia and Australasia. Once exclusively used by anglers, Kelly Kettles are now seen as essential camping equipment/gear and are being used by all types of outdoor enthusiasts such as explorers, Kayakers, hill walkers, car campers, scouts, hunters, gardeners or as a vital item in emergency preparedness & wilderness survival kits.

Proud of our history, we are always on the lookout for interesting stories from the past and present regarding our Kelly Kettles and look forward to receiving them from you, our valued customers.