We felt sure that missing Fiona would walk in the door - family
The family of missing Fiona Sinnott have spoken of their heartache at marking birthdays and holding out hope that she would some day walk through the door.
They also scotched rumours that she had simply fled home at the age of 19.
Fiona went missing in February 1998 from the home in Wexford that she shared with her infant daughter.
Her family are currently carrying out their own private investigations and dig as they search for a breakthrough.
Fiona's father, Pat, died 11 years ago at the age of 59. He was a "broken-hearted" man who had waited at the gate of his house every evening since February 9, 1998 for his youngest child to return home.
Seventeen-and-a-half years later, Fiona has still not returned, and her family firmly believe that something "drastic" happened to her.
Two significant events followed shortly after her dis- appearance - her sister Diane's 21st birthday and her daughter's first birthday.
"We were a close family and it was coming up to my 21st birthday party and she was all excited and we were to go shopping in Waterford," Diane told the Irish Independent.
Her mother, Mary, added: "I thought when her 21st birthday party came, I thought sure as anything she was going to walk in the door.
"We all did. And then we knew after that night - and the next day was the first birthday party - we knew there was something wrong."
One rumour that circulated at the time of Fiona's disappearance was that she had left for England.
However, neither the gardaí nor her family ever believed this.
Diane said: "She didn't just take off and she didn't just vanish, no."
The Sinnott family believe that a number of people hold extremely valuable information in relation to Fiona's disappearance.
"We are asking anyone out there that knows anything to come forward, because I believe people do know, more than one person," said Diane.
"I definitely believe that people out there do know more of what happened to Fiona."
The missing woman's uncle, Eugene, said: "It's very frustrating how they kept quiet for so long. Maybe there's fear that they just don't want to come forward in case something happens to them."
Fiona was last seen in public on February 8, 1998, leaving Butler's pub in Broadway, Co Wexford
Her family have three prime locations that they are investigating in relation to her dis- appearance.
"People are coming to us all the time with bits and pieces of information, and we are going on every lead now, not just one lead," said Eugene.
"We've got three prime places that we have to look into because there had been work done in the area at the same time as the disappearance."
The family also thanked Joe Blake of Trace Missing Persons Ireland for his help in recent searches.