Journalist who found baby abandoned in phone box 'firm friends' with man over 55 years later

Journalist Who Found Baby Abandoned In Phone Box 'Firm Friends' With Man Over 55 Years Later Journalist Who Found Baby Abandoned In Phone Box 'Firm Friends' With Man Over 55 Years Later
Paul Murphy (right) and Pat Bailey pictured with baby John in 1965. Photo: supplied by Ciara Wilkinson
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Elaine Keogh

The man who found a newborn baby boy abandoned in a phone box in freezing conditions over 55 years ago says the pair are now “firm friends.”

The baby, now happily married and a father himself, was named John (56).

John had been adopted and for Paul Murphy, the journalist and former newspaper editor who found him at midnight on May 2nd 1965, there has been a happy ending.

“Discovering John has siblings and is now in touch with them, is amazing. In a way it closes the chapter on the biggest story of my career and life,” he said.

It has emerged, thanks to DNA testing, that John had a brother and sister who were also abandoned as newborns. David McBride and Helen Ward were reunited on the ITV programme, Long Lost Family last year.


David was found in a GP’s car in Belfast in 1962 and Helen was found in a phone box in Dundalk in 1968.

Similar circumstances

The programme was seen by John’s daughter Donna, who thought there was a physical similarity, and she and John agreed to DNA testing.

The testing revealed the three abandoned babies were not just found in similar circumstances but that they were also siblings.

A follow-up programme featuring John meeting with Helen and David will be broadcast next Tuesday night.

In an exclusive in-depth interview about his role in the real life drama, Paul said he was on his way home with a friend after rehearsals at their local drama group in Drogheda, Co Louth, when they heard a baby crying and it seemed to come from a public phone box.

The front page of the newspaper, showing the story about baby John. Photo: supplied by Ciara Wilkinson

“It was midnight on a Sunday in May, 1965 and the street was empty. Normally you would not find anybody on the street,” he said.

His friend, Pat Bailey “was the one who noticed that one of the panes in the phone box, which were pretty soundproof, was broken and that was probably how we heard the cries.”

Paul believes that but for the cries, the baby would not have made it through the night.


The men contacted Gardaí and the baby was taken to the maternity unit of the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.

Paul was a working journalist and the next morning he wrote about the discovery - archived material of that front page news report led John to find Paul and one day, 48 years after they first met, they spoke on the phone.

Paul Murphy on Laurences Street, Drogheda where he found baby John in 1965, holding a framed picture of the Evening Press where the story made the front page. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

“We found the baby in 1965 and practically a whole lifetime passed before he made contact with me and that was in 2013. I was completely shocked and surprised.

“We spoke on the phone and he came to Drogheda the next morning. We are still in contact, we became firm friends from 2013.”

Paul said it is the wonder of science that means John knows he was not an only child and has been able to meet his siblings.

For Paul, it is as if he too gained a sibling. “My two brothers are deceased. but since 2013 I have regarded John as another brother, someone who is very special.”

“It is amazing that without the advances in science and DNA since he was born, we would never know this. Without them his chances of discovering any of his family would have been extremely slim.”

“I have been reporting since I was 18 and it was definitely the most memorable story of my career. It was in many ways the biggest story of my career. We have been able to close the chapter so to speak and it really is a very happy ending.”

The full story, including John meeting his siblings, is included in the programme which is broadcast next Tuesday evening on ITV at 9pm.

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