'It's a huge shock' - Doctor tracks down estranged Irish family after Independent.ie appeal
A London doctor who issued an online plea to find his estranged father's Irish family has revealed that he tracked them down in less than 24 hours.
Ben Stevens, a paediatrician in Hertfordshire, was left at a London hospital by his mother as a baby and later adopted when he was five by a loving family.
The 35-year-old began searching for his birth parents around six years ago. However he was heartbroken to discover that his father, Gerry Monaghan, from Co Donegal, had died tragically in a suspected hit-and-run just one year earlier.
On Monday he issued an appeal on Independent.ie for help locating Gerry's Irish family. His father, who struggled with alcohol addiction throughout his life, lost touch with his Irish roots.
- Read More: 'I want to bring my dad's ashes home to Ireland' - Doctor in bid to find estranged family
He said: "I would like to meet my relatives and to say 'Hi'. I would like them to see that I turned out pretty okay I am a paediatrician and I have a very happy life."
And it wasn't long before his call was answered. Less than 24 hours later, Geraldine Monaghan who is originally from Ballyshannon but living in the Midlands, contacted this website to say she believed she was Ben's aunt.
Ms Monaghan said: "It was such a huge shock seeing Gerard's face again as we did not know where he had gone. I had no idea he had passed.
"This is such a huge shock for us. it is bittersweet to learn of Gerard's death and then to learn that I had a nephew that I wasn't aware of."
Ms Monaghan (57) went on to explain that she has a brother Bernard (58) and a sister Martina (51). Furthermore she revealed that their mother, Ben's grandmother, is still alive and "sharp as a razor".
Independent.ie put Ben in contact with Geraldine and today he revealed that they had already spoken at length over the phone and sent multiple whatsapp messages.
"I have spoken to my two aunts Geraldine and Martina. I'm very happy talking to everybody. I think they were very much in shock.
"I think they were very happy that I turned out okay and they were excited that I actually existed."
Dr Stevens said they have already made arrangements to meet up. Coincidentally Martina Monaghan is travelling to near where he lives in two weeks time.
And in the next few months he is hoping to travel over to Ireland with his father's ashes at last.
"I haven't had a chance to think about my first cousins yet. I would especially like to go over and meet my grandmother.
"I will try get over in the next few months. They seem like very nice people."
"I am fascinated to know more about my birth father. I would like to know about where he grew up and my family."