High-tech DNA and forensic tests have been conducted on the remains of murdered Kilkenny mother-of-two Marie Tierney (34) in a bid to identify her killer.
Gardaí are hopeful the tests will help validate new information which came to light earlier this year in the 34-year-old murder investigation.
The tests were conducted at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) after the remains of Ms Tierney were exhumed from Conahy Cemetery in Kilkenny at dawn today.
Following the completion of the forensic tests, Ms Tierney's body was brought back to Conahy Cemetery and re-interred this evening.
"Gardaí have liaised closely with Marie’s family throughout this process," a Garda spokesperson stressed.
Gardaí briefed members of Ms Tierney's family on developments in the case.
Her family have waged an unrelenting 34-year campaign for her killer to be brought to justice.
Ms Tierney's siblings, John Bourke and Breda Fay, urged people to support the Garda investigation - and appealed to the killer to "do the right thing...and hand yourself in."
"We are just hoping this helps bring an end to it after all these years," Mr Bourke told Independent.ie
“We strongly believe that her murderer is alive. You know who you are and we are asking you to please come forward. Hand yourself in for the sake of her children, her grandchildren and all her family. We need justice for Marie."
The exhumation took place just one week after the 34th anniversary of the mother of two suddenly vanishing from her home.
Special permission was required from both Kilkenny County Council and the Department of Justice for the exhumation which Gardaí insisted was vital in light of new information which came to light in their investigation.
A senior Kilkenny Garda source said they were "hopeful" the exhumation may deliver the breakthrough required in the long-running murder probe.
New information came to Garda attention from a number of witnesses earlier this year.
That followed fresh appeals for assistance as the Tierney investigation was the focus of a full cold case review launched last November.
More than 500 lines of inquiry have been pursued by Kilkenny detectives.
A total of 200 witness statements have been compiled.
The mother-of-two was murdered on a date unknown between October 21 and December 21 1984.
The young mother lived with her husband, Jim, and their two children, aged 13 and 12 in 1984, at Clinstown, Co Kilkenny, and ran a small retail service station.
Her husband reported her missing on October 22 1984 after she had left the family home at 10.30pm the previous evening and failed to return.
Ms Tierney was reported to be driving the family's Renault 18 car, registration number 35 HIP.
The vehicle was later found parked at Newpark Fenn in Kilkenny but there was no trace of Ms Tierney.
Locals said the car was spotted parked at the site around 11pm on October 21, less than an hour after Ms Tierney left her home.
Despite an extensive search of the local countryside, no trace of the mother-of-two was found.
Two months later, on December 21, a man out walking spotted human remains in a ditch at Bleach Road in Kilkenny.
A post mortem examination indicated that Ms Tierney had been strangled.
The Garda cold case review focused on the movements of Ms Tierney's car - and detectives specifically appealed to anyone who may have seen the vehicle by Newtown Fenn or by Bleach Road.
Detectives also urged anyone who recalled people walking or cycling in either of those two locations on October 21/22 1984 to come forward.
Kilkenny Gardaí again urged anyone with information to assist their investigation.
“We wish to thank the community at large and the media for their assistance then and we again seek their help in this case," a Garda spokesperson said.
"Whilst over 30 years have elapsed there may be people who have information who for whatever reason have not come forward yet."
“We would ask those people to please make contact with An Garda Síochana in Kilkenny on (056) 7775000 or on the Garda Confidential Line (1800) 666111.”