Sunday 17 November 2019

'She wasn't shown any mercy' - Siobhán Hynes' parents speak out in heartbreaking documentary about her murder

Tocht na Máthar (Mothers in Mourning), available on TG4 Player

Siobhan Hynes in one of the last photos taken of her
Siobhan Hynes in one of the last photos taken of her
Brid and Aindi Hynes
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

As the 20th anniversary of the death of teenager Siobhán Hynes approaches this year, her parents have spoken out her horrifying murder at the hands of a local man.

TG4 documentary Tocht na Máthar (Mothers in Mourning) explores the impact the 17-year-old schoolgirl's death had on her mother, her father, her friends and the wider community in what was considered a very safe, and close-knit area of Connemara.

Siobhan Hynes
Siobhan Hynes

Siobhán was assaulted and murdered on December 6, 1998.  That night she left home to go for a drive with her friends.  Her mother Bríd's last words to her were, 'Be careful'.

Hours later she left her car full of friends to go use the bathroom in a local pub.  As they were closing up they refused her entry and she told her friends she would head down to a local restaurant instead.  She never made it.

Siobhán's body was found the next evening on a local beach.  It was just one week after her 17th birthday.

Almost two decades later the pain Siobhán's parents Bríd and Aindi Hynes feel is as raw and devastating as ever.

Brid and Aindi Hynes
Brid and Aindi Hynes

"I wish that I could see her growing up, becoming a woman.  As her father I wish that I could have given her away in church on her wedding day," says her father in tonight's documentary.

Bríd recalls an incident during Siobhán's childhood when a mouse entered the family's kitchen.  Brid said she would get the cat, but Siobhan told her mother she had looked in the mouse's eyes and he was scared.  They shooed him out of the house instead.

"I often compare the things that happened to her with the mercy she showed the mouse that night.  She was in the mouse's position a little while alter and she wasn't shown any mercy," says Brid.

After a long investigation by local gardai into the murder, local man John McDonagh was arrested and two and a half years after his crime he was jailed for life for Siobhán's murder and also received a ten year sentence for rape. 

McDonagh had been working as a labourer and prior to Siobhán's murder he had not come to the attention of the gardai.  As the investigation went on he remained a free man in the local Gaeltacht community.

Siobhán's close friend, former Ros na Run actress Sorcha Ni Cheide, says that they had felt "innocent and secure" in the area prior to the murder.  As the investigation continued, however, she worried that McDonagh was not guilty and that the real perpetrator was still at large.

Bríd describes how close-knit the community was at that time, "If one person in the community is suffering, everyone is suffering."

While Tocht na Máthar conveys the devastating impact Siobhán's murder had on both her family, friends, and the wider community, it also charts the progress of the investigation, McDonagh's guilty plea, how it played out in court from the point of view of her parents, and the legacy of that crime for Aindi, Brid and the community.

Tocht na Máthar is available on TG4 Player

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