People in community can unlock 36 year mystery of missing woman, gardaí say

Daughter of Barbara Walsh says she knew her mother ‘did not leave us ’ by choice

 Barbara Walsh who was last seen at her family home in Co Galway on June 22nd 1985

Barbara Walsh who was last seen at her family home in Co Galway on June 22nd 1985


Gardaí believe a close-knit Gaeltacht community in the west of Ireland can shed light on how mother-of-seven Barbara Walsh vanished 36 years ago with no trace of her discovered in the years since.

The missing woman’s daughter Jacqueline Walsh, who was aged just 14 years when her mother vanished, said the decades of unanswered questions had been a huge burden for the family to carry. Speaking on Tuesday on the 36th anniversary of her mother’s disappearance, she appealed to anyone with information to come forward, adding she knew her mother “did not leave us” by choice.

“Not knowing what has happened to her all these years has taken a significant toll on us all as a family. We just want to know where she is so we can bring her home, and lay her to rest,” she said.

“We are appealing to anyone who has information - now is the time to come forward. We want our mother back, we want to know what happened… and we want that information to come to light, no matter what that might mean.”

Detective Sgt Colm Mac Donnachadha said though the case dated back to 1985 it “continues to be a live investigation” and gardaí would be grateful to receive any information.

Carna is a close-knit Gaeltacht community and we believe there are people in this community who may have information that can help our investigation,” he said. “We are conscious that we now live in a very different era to 1985 and now with that passage of time, people may feel more comfortable sharing information with us.

“Barbara Walsh was a dedicated mother and wife and her disappearance has caused great anxiety and worry to her young family who are now adults and parents themselves. Ahead of what would be her 70th birthday, we are asking those with information, no matter how insignificant they think it is, to make contact with us.”

He said he was especially appealing to people in the community surrounding Rusheenamanagh to come forward and pass on any information. They should do this, however small the information may seem to them, and then let the gardaí assess its significance.

He confirmed a cash reward was now on offer as gardaí had partnered with Crimestoppers - which offers rewards for information that leads to a breakthrough in a case - in their appeal for information on Tuesday.

Ms Walsh, a 33-year-old Galway woman, was last seen alive at her home after a party was held at the house. It was an impromptu gathering as Mr Walsh’s brother and sister - Catherine and Patrick - had been on a visit home and were about to depart again for America and Australia.

Her family and the gardaí believe she was murdered at the time of her disappearance and her body disposed of to conceal the crime.

Ms Walsh was seen asleep on the sofa at her home in Rusheenamanagh, Carna Co Galway, at about 4am on June 22nd, 1985, after the party in the house the previous night and into the early hours.

Her daughter Jacquie was aged 14 at the time and woke during the night and went downstairs. She tried unsuccessfully to wake her mother before leaving her to sleep downstairs on the sofa.

When the family awoke that morning and Ms Walsh was gone they initially assumed she had gone out with their father, Dara, on his bike to nearby shops, as he often did on Saturday morning. However, when he returned to the house and was alone they realised Ms Walsh was missing and the alarm was raised.

Despite Garda appeals and an investigation at the time, followed by reviews of the case over the years, no trace has ever been found of Ms Walsh. No information has emerged to suggest what happened to her. When she were missing her children were aged in range from nine months to 18 years.

The last case review was carried out six years ago and several sites were identified and searched by investigating gardaí. They were assisted by the Garda Technical Bureau and cadaver dog from the UK and also a forensic anthropologist. Gardaí have continued to receive information about the case and based of some of that intelligence there have been several searches in Rusheenamanagh, Carna, though they have yielded nothing.

On the night in question, Mr Walsh was sleeping upstairs and his wife slept on the sofa. His sister, Catherine, left the house for a period and then came back but it is not clear if she saw Ms Walsh on the sofa when she came back to the house. Both Ms Walsh’s husband and his sister, Catherine, are now deceased.