Discovery of bodies looks set to bring month-long search efforts to an end

Remains have yet to be formally identified

The scene on Inchicup island, Lough Sheelan, Co Cavan, where gardaí have discovered human remains after a month-long search. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

The scene on Inchicup island, Lough Sheelan, Co Cavan, where gardaí have discovered human remains after a month-long search. Photograph: Philip Fitzpatrick

 

Eoin O’Connor and Anthony Keegan never came home. Their families became extremely concerned; they had some idea what might have gone wrong. In the last month, gardaí mounted several expansive searches for bodies in the lands and lakes of Co Cavan which had proved frustrating and arduous.

Yesterday, more than 30 days after they were reported missing, the men’s remains were finally located on a small island in the middle of Lough Sheelin on the Meath-Cavan border, about 40km from where their car was found abandoned.

Formal identification While formal identification remains necessary to confirm the discovery, investigators were in little doubt last night.

For the families and friends who had personally attended the search scenes, it marks a tragic end to the saga although possibly confirms well-held suspicions.

On April 22nd, Mr O’Connor (32) and Mr Keegan (33) drove to Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, for a prearranged meeting thought to be related to suspected criminal activity.

It was the last time they were seen. Their families contacted Mountjoy and Santry Garda stations to report their disappearance and gardaí were immediately concerned for their wellbeing.

Searches began in earnest around Ballyjamesduff, although these were hampered by the sheer size of the area involved and the fact that gardaí had little to go on.

Then, in what appeared to be something of an early breakthrough, the men’s grey Ford Focus was discovered parked neatly and alone in a small rural car park beside Lough Owel, just a few kilometres outside Mullingar.

It proved fruitless though. The vehicle, unscathed and without clues, led them nowhere.

Lough Sheelin

Investigators were unclear as to whether the men drove to the lake as a rendezvous location or whether whoever is behind their disappearance had simply moved their car to confuse search teams.

Garda divers arrived, but after a few hours searching the water and fields surrounding the lake, there was still no breakthrough.

All the time family and friends sat patiently on a grassy bank across the road waiting.

By the end of April the focus of the search operation had taken gardaí to Lough Sheelin, the site of yesterday’s eventual discovery.

Investigators had received intelligence the men were murdered and their bodies dumped.

Again, a search team and divers arrived to comb the banks of the picturesque lake which is overlooked by Ross Castle.

Again, family and friends gathered in the hope of some development.

Gardaí removed a boat from a private house in the area, although the significance of that remains unclear.

At the same lake yesterday, gardaí searched again, but this time they knew exactly where to go and the month-long search for the men appears to have been brought to a close.