Gardaí contact family of missing woman Elaine O’Hara

Remains found may be those of the Dublin woman who went missing last August

Gardaí have contacted the family of missing Dublin woman Elaine O’Hara in connection with the skeletal remains of a woman found in south Co Dublin, which may be hers.

While Garda sources said other families have also been contacted, they say the partial skeleton found last Friday evening was that of a woman of large build.

That fact, coupled with some of the clothing found at the scene, have led gardaí to believe the remains may be those of a 36-year-old woman. Death may have been as a result of a personal tragedy rather than a homicide, however, though that has not been determined conclusively.

There had been speculation at the weekend that the body could be that of one of several women at the centre of missing persons’ cases dating from the 1990s, but officers are satisfied that the death took place more recently. “It was most likely within the past two years,” said one source.


Ms O’Hara is missing just over 12 months and was last seen on August 22nd, 2012.

Report of sighting

Gardaí believe she had been to visit the grave of her mother around the time of the last confirmed sightings of her.

She was seen at 5.05pm on that Wednesday evening leaving Belarmine Plaza, Stepaside, south Co Dublin.

Just over an hour later, at about 6.15pm, there was a reported sighting of her near that footbridge over the railway line at Shanganagh in Shankill.

About two days later her green Fiat Punto, with its 05 D registration, was found at Shanganagh cemetery in Shankill, not far from the spot of the last sighting.

Gardaí say she had been to visit her mother’s grave and may have been depressed.

Ms O’Hara was described as 5ft 4in in height and of stocky build with mousey brown hair. When she went missing gardaí say she was wearing jeans, runners and a blue top, with either a jacket or a jumper.

It is understood runners and a tracksuit top were found with the remains last Friday.

Gardaí also say the remains likely had sunk into the ground as the body decomposed and had then been covered by undergrowth and grass. It is not believed the body was buried.

Gardaí collected DNA from Ms O’Hara’s family at the time of her disappearance, which when cross-checked against a DNA profile from the bones found last Friday should conclusively reveal whether the remains are those of Ms O’Hara. Her dental records are also being checked.

Garda sources expect the identity of the deceased will be confirmed by the end of the week. However, the same sources said that while several characteristics last week appear to match Ms O’Hara’s case, this is only one line of inquiry and they have not discounted the possibility that it may not be her.

The woman who made the discovery  last Friday was on Killakee mountain, Rathfarnham, south Co Dublin, at about 7.30pm when her dog went into undergrowth and would not come out.

The owner went in after the animal and found what she believed to be human remains. The Garda­ were alerted and the scene was sealed off immediately. The area remained sealed off yesterday.

The medical examination of the remains has been led by deputy State pathologist Dr Michael Curtis.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times