On National Missing Persons Day families tell of ‘painful’ years not knowing

‘Even if we got a finger or a nail we would be happy with that’, says daughter of Albert Timmins

Barbara Walsh (33), known locally as Babe Dara Aindriú, vanished from the family home at Roisín na Maithníoch (Rusheenamanagh) outside Carna, Connemara, in the early hours of June 22nd, 1985.

Barbara Walsh (33), known locally as Babe Dara Aindriú, vanished from the family home at Roisín na Maithníoch (Rusheenamanagh) outside Carna, Connemara, in the early hours of June 22nd, 1985.

 

A woman whose father went missing over 40 years ago said she thinks of him every day and her continuing quest for answers still “eats away” at her. Albert Timmins (49) vanished from his native Dublin on December 23rd, 1980, a year after his wife, Margaret, died from blood clots.

Mr Timmons had three children - Liam who was aged 24 years old at the time, Carol then 16 and Tricia who was 12 - when he went to the Viscount Pub in Whitehall, north Dublin, on the day he disappeared and never came home.

On Wednesday, National Missing Persons Day, his eldest daughter, Carol Morris, said that only other people who had gone through the trauma of losing a loved one in such sudden and unexplained circumstances could understand how “painful” it was.

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of my da,” she said. “You feel bitter, you feel angry, it’s just very hard because you’re just going through all these emotions... I thought at one stage if he came home I was going to kill him for the hurt because I couldn’t understand why he walked out and left three of us.

“You think: ‘Does he not love you?’ At this stage I just wish we knew. Even if we got a finger or a nail we would be happy with that. That sounds terrible but we just want to bring him home.”

The family has previously said they suspected Mr Timmins was not coping well at the time he disappeared and they wondered if he had driven into the sea. He was in his car when he last left his home on St Cronans Avenue, Swords, Co Dublin, and the white Wolseley vehicle, registration YZU-896, was never found.

Aideen Walsh, whose grandmother Barbara Walsh vanished in Co Galway in 1985, said she believed her grandmother, who had seven children, was the victim of foul play but insisted the family would never stop looking for answers.

Gardaí mounted a search near Carna in Connemara, Co Galway, in 2015 in connection with the case of Barbara Walsh who had disappeared in 1985. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Gardaí mounted a search near Carna in Connemara, Co Galway, in 2015 in connection with the case of Barbara Walsh who had disappeared in 1985. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

“She had kids ranging from nine months to 18-years-old and from the way we heard about her, and how she was as a mother, you know she wouldn’t leave her kids, she loved her kids. I know someone did do something to her, we just want to know what,” Ms Walsh said.

“At the end of the day, the thing people need to understand is that it’s not just her children who are grieving this, it’s her grandchildren who are grieving this as well.” She said people who had information could now help the family and “bring home” her grandmother.

Ms Walsh, then aged 36, was seen asleep on the sofa at her home in Rusheenamanagh, Carna, Co Galway, at about 4am on June 22nd, 1985, after a party in the house the previous night that had gone on into the early hours. The case was currently undergoing a cold case review by the Garda.

Closure

The family of Peter Wilson (33), Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath, who went missing on a holiday Tenerife in 2019, but whose body was found last January, also spoke of their hope other families would also get closure.

“You go into bed every night and you’re still up saying ‘where are you, what happened to you?” said Jackie Wilson, mother of the dead man. “You wake up every morning and you pull up the blinds... ‘where are you son?’”

Peter Wilson Snr said his family had been lucky as a storm in Tenerife had shifted a river bed in January, which uncovered the remains of his son, who died accidentally leaving two young children. He urged anyone with information on other missing persons cases to “make a call or leave a note”.

Addressing Wednesday’s event, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the families of those who went missing carried a “burden that did not ease” over the years. There are 850 people listed as missing in Ireland.

The remains of Barry Coughlan were identified through DNA after his body was discovered in the waters off Crosshaven, Co Cork, in May.
The remains of Barry Coughlan were identified through DNA after his body was discovered in the waters off Crosshaven, Co Cork, in May.

The national missing persons DNA database aided the Garda’s investigations into missing persons cases and he urged the families of all missing people to give a sample for crosschecking.

He added even very old cases could be solved sometimes, with the body of missing Corkman Barry Coughlan, a 23-year-old who vanished in May, 2004, discovered this year.

In that case, family DNA was used to confirm skeletal remains in a Toyota Corolla hatchback found in the waters off Crosshaven, Co Cork, last May were those of the young fisherman.