Laura D. Kelley was born in New York City but spent her childhood in Mexico, her teen years in Texas, Alaska, US Virgin Islands and her twenties in Europe and California. The desire to travel the world runs through her veins courtesy of her Irish ancestors and she assumed that moving every few years to a new locale would continue ad infinitum. However, after moving to New Orleans to complete her Ph.D., she realized she had finally found a place to call home.
Her Irish roots dictated the focus of her study. Kelley has developed numerous classes about the Irish as well as the culture, history and foodways of New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. In addition, she has directed several research projects with St. Alphonsus Art and Culture Center as well as Save our Cemeteries. These projects have uncovered different facets of the Irish history of the city using traditional and non-traditional primary sources.