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Family endures a 'living nightmare' as dream shatters

IN just a matter of weeks, missing woman Jill Meagher is due to celebrate her 30th birthday in one of the bars where she was last seen.

However, now, her family and friends are enduring a living nightmare as they anxiously await news of the investigation into her disappearance.

The young emigrant, who is originally from Termonfeckin in Co Louth, made a new life for herself with her husband in Melbourne, Australia, three years ago.

She is due to celebrate her 30th birthday in the Brunswick Green in a couple of weeks' time. This is one of the bars she and her colleagues at ABC Radio visited last Friday night to mark another friend's birthday.

Jill had settled in well to life in her adopted home of Australia. It is a country she has known since she was 10 years old -- when her father, George, got a job in Perth and the whole family moved Down Under.

She returned to Ireland to finish secondary school and in 2000 she started at UCD where she studied English, sociology and psychology.

It was while at university that she first met her future husband, Tom Meagher, and the couple married in Wicklow in July 2008.

A year later the couple packed their bags for Australia and settled in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick where Jill found work as a unit co-ordinator at ABC Radio.

However, their dream was shattered last weekend when Jill vanished after a night out.

Her uncle, Michael McKeon, who lives in Drogheda, Co Louth, said the family is now living through a "nightmare".


However, despite there being no trace of Jill for the last four days, Mr McKeon said they have not given up hope that she is still alive. "The fact we haven't found her yet, there is still hope," he said.

He said Jill's family in Ireland and Australia are feeling helpless as they wait for news.

"It's an unreal nightmare. It's mind-numbing in many ways, your thought process kind of shuts down. It's the helplessness of the situation. They're looking for her but, to an extent, they've done all they can do," he added.

He said Jill was in Ireland just weeks ago but cut her holiday short when her father suffered a stroke.

"It's hard to fathom that Jill was at home in Ireland and we had a night out with her just three weeks ago."

Meanwhile, he said the search by detectives of Jill's apartment yesterday was part of "due process".

"People tend to read in different things to what the police do. The bottom line is we just want her back."

Jill's parents plan to remain in Perth, where they live, and are being kept informed on the search by their son Michael who is in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, a sister of Mr Meagher was due to arrive in Australia yesterday to support her brother, while an uncle of Jill's who is living in Sydney is also expected in Melbourne.

Mr McKeon said Jill's mother, Edith McKeon, had struggled to make her television appeal which was broadcast across Australia on Monday. In it, an emotional Edith asked anyone with information to come forward.

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