I had the privilege of doing one of my Whisky Fireside Chats (online due to the COVID-19 pandemic) with Patrick Kelly from Kelly Kettle. What an incredible, historic piece of camp gear.
The Kelly Kettle dates to the 1890s, to a small farm on the shores of Lough Conn, County Mayo, Ireland. Patrick’s great-grandfather—also named Patrick Kelly—liked to tinker in his shed at the farm, and came up with the first kettle from tin so he could make a nice cup of tea while out fly-fishing for trout in the nearby river. He replaced the tin with copper, making it more durable, and more in demand by other local anglers.
News of his kettle spread among local anglers and it received wonderful reviews from anglers visiting from the U.K.
During the 1950s, Jim Patrick (Patrick’s son and grandfather of the present Patrick Kelly) became a fishing guide along Ireland’s Lough Conn. He was renowned for his angling skill and his handy kettle that boiled up a cup a tea in minutes. The great-grandfather’s tinkering “hobby” was starting to grow into a small business. Jim Patrick spent the winter making a 1.6 litre Base Camp Aluminum Kettle and selling it to other anglers.
In the 1970s and 1980s, more anglers came to fish Lough Conn, especially from the U.K. and Germany; they all fell in love with the Kelly Kettle. The business started to build from a hobby to a larger “cottage” style vocation. Padraic Kelly (father of the current Patrick Kelly) implemented modern manufacturing techniques and started producing a second size of the aluminum kettle (the small Trekker model). Padraic’s reputation as an angler on Lough Conn grew much farther than his father before him, and word of the kettle started to spread across the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Japan and Australia.
Patrick and Seamus took over the Kelly Kettle Company in 2005. Patrick was a commercial banker and his brother was a marketer. They changed the kettle a bit. It's now made from stainless steel, not aluminum. They had noticed that demand internationally for aluminum product was dropping fast! It took a lot of faith behind their great-grandfather’s tinkering in the old shed several years ago. They had to remortgage their homes to invest in the changes to the first Stainless Steel Base Camp Kelly Kettle. And it was a success.
This simple yet effective camp stick stove is known globally as one of the best ways to boil up a cup of tea, or cook up an entire meal, while trekking the backwoods.
Check out my interview with Patrick Kelly. It’s a good one!