PEGGY Mangan's faithful dog Casper was found loyally watching over her body as the search for the missing Dublin woman ended in tragedy yesterday.
Mrs Mangan's beloved pet was discovered beside his owner's remains in undergrowth in a field beside the Ikea store.
The grim discovery was made shortly before 4pm, just as volunteers were preparing to search the area.
A male volunteer found Mrs Mangan, 65, lying in a steep gully in grassy wasteland.
Casper, whom her family described as "her best friend", lay beside her. And in a truly poignant end to such a sad event, the faithful companion who had watched over his owner's body died within hours of the find, while being treated by a local vet
A local priest gave last rites over Mrs Mangan's remains. Her body was removed from the scene shortly afterwards.
The area was quickly cordoned off by gardai while Mrs Mangan's family was informed.
A large group of volunteers stood in silence on the motorway adjoining the wasteland, stopping the passing traffic as a mark of respect for Mrs Mangan.
Up to 150 volunteers had earlier joined gardai and search and rescue teams to search fields and marshes in north Dublin.
Mrs Mangan suffered from Alzheimer's disease. She left her home on Mount Tallant Avenue in Terenure at 11am last Tuesday morning to walk her King Charles spaniel.
Gardai launched yesterday's search after concluding that CCTV footage of a woman walking her dog in the Lanesborough area of Finglas at around 10pm last Tuesday night was more than likely Mrs Mangan.
As this was the last known sighting of her, garda rescue teams focussed their search within a 3.5km radius of that spot. At 3pm yesterday, rescue teams and volunteers fanned out across fields and marshes beyond.
Mrs Mangan's son, Jon, earlier told the Sunday Independent that he was still hopeful of finding his mother alive. He also thanked all of the volunteers for their assistance.
"I know my mother would appreciate it and my family absolutely appreciates it," he said.
"The community support out here has been nothing short of spectacular."
Jon said his mother, who raised three children, was a caring person who has looked after lots of children in Terenure over the years.
She adored her 10-year-old King Charles Spaniel Casper. "The dog was her best friend," he said.
Mrs Mangan had left her home last Tuesday morning to take the dog for a walk and was seen with him at various points in the city later that day. A slight woman of five foot two, she wore a white jacket and black trousers. She was seen later that day on Clanbrassil Street in the south inner-city at around midday, in Finglas at around 3pm and at the Topaz petrol station in Glasnevin at 6.50pm.
She did not take her mobile phone, or cash or even a bus pass with her and it is believed that she walked all the way from Terenure in south Dublin to Finglas on the northside – a distance of over nine kilometres.
She had also been without medication for her illness for several days.
While gardai and civil defence orchestrated a forensic search of the area, the voluntary effort was orchestrated by her son-in-law's family.
Peggy's son-in-law, Darragh, works at DID electrical in Finglas. The store became a volunteer base yesterday, as the local community turned out in their droves to help.
Carol Barr, Robert Moran and Siobhan Brady, all from Finglas, said they were moved to join the search after hearing the appeal for help.
"If it was my parent, I would like to think someone was out looking for her," said Ms Brady.