Man held over disappearance of Mary Boyle (6) in 1977

Girl last seen near her grandparents’ home close to Ballyshannon almost 40 years ago

A man has been arrested on suspicion of abducting six-year-old Mary Boyle , who has been missing presumed murdered since 1977.

Mary disappeared on March 18th, 1977, while on a St Patrick's day visit to her grandparents at Cashelard near Ballyshannon in Co Donegal.

On the day she was last seen alive, the girl followed her uncle across a peat bog and was told to return home. However, while the return walk should have only taken a couple of minutes she was never see again.

A massive investigation and search was conducted at the time and there have been further searches since 1977. However, Mary was never seen again.


She is officially Ireland’s longest-missing person.

The suspect has been arrested under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and is being questioned in Mullingar Garda station.

His arrest follows a review of the case by a team in the Garda’s northern region which began three years ago.

The team has effectively reinvestigated the case, in what represents the second major review of Mary’s disappearance and presumed murder 37 years ago.

The review team has conducted a large number of interviews and re-examined statements given by people at the time Mary was last seen alive. A number of searches and excavations have also taken place, some with the help of forensic and geology experts.

Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny, which is in charge of policing in the Northern Region, said the investigation was ongoing and was dependent on assistance from the public.

“We are appealing for anyone with any information on the circumstances around Mary’s disappearance to contact us,” he said.

“Even something that people may have thought was insignificant at the time could help us advance the continuing investigation.”

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times