Saturday 24 February 2018

Irish fan missing in Poland: Please ring us James beg distraught parents

James's parents, Essie and Jimmy Nolan, with a picture of their son
James at his recent 21st birthday with parents Jimmy and Essie
A picture in the home of James Nolan with some of his sports trophies
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

AS the mobile phone on the kitchen table leaped to life, the distraught parents of the young soccer fan missing in Poland locked eyes with expressions of mingled hope and terror.

But a split second later, it was clear that their agonising ordeal was not yet over.

Jimmy Nolan conveyed wearily to his wife, Essie, that it was just another radio station seeking a comment on the disappearance of their youngest son James (21).

As he hung up the phone, the father's emotions overcame him and he sat with his head bowed, dazed with grief and helplessness.

"Every time the phone rings, you jump," explained Essie. "Just ring. Say you're alright," she then added, as though addressing her missing son.

The environmental engineering student at Tallaght Institute of Technology had made up his mind to travel to Poland as far back as November when the Irish squad qualified for the tournament. He had saved hard, with the money he made from a weekend bar job.

Now, following James's disappearance, the family have been plunged into "a nightmare", his father Jimmy said yesterday. They are trying to piece together his last movements from a distance of almost 2,000km.

As the couple talked, their other children, Andy (29) and Susan (27), watched TV with the sound down. A Father's Day card stood on the mantlepiece.

The last contact they had with James was at around 8pm on Saturday night. He had texted his father to ask him for credit as his phone was running low. Jimmy topped up his phone and then rang his son.

James had just learned the previous day that he had passed his second-year exams, with an A in maths, and they discussed this news.

"He was thrilled because he'd been studying very hard," said Essie.


James told his father the group planned to have showers before going somewhere to watch England play Sweden, with food and a few drinks.

The group of around seven friends, all from Blessington, had been travelling across Poland from Gdansk to Poznan but stopped for the night at the midway city of Bydgoszcz.

There they decided to check into a hotel to avail of the extra comfort and showers.

James's ATM card was last used at 9.30pm that night and the last time he was seen by friends was later in the bar where they became separated.

Meanwhile, Jimmy is adamant that reports his son had been involved in an altercation between Irish and Polish locals were "categorically untrue". "There was no altercation," Jimmy said emphatically. "James was not and would never be involved in anything like that."

They are clinging to hope that James is still alive.

"He's somewhere out there, maybe lost and disorientated

," his mother said.

"He doesn't speak the language and he's on his own. Someone has seen him or will come across him somewhere."

In the meantime, all they can do is wait.-

Irish Independent

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