Sunday 24 March 2019

Missing Mary is one of State's longest running cases

No inquest: Mary Boyle. Pic Tom Burke
No inquest: Mary Boyle. Pic Tom Burke

Kathy Donaghy

This March marks 42 years since Donegal schoolgirl Mary Boyle went missing from her home at Cashelard, Ballyshannon.

Mary went missing in March 1977 and last year gardaí renewed their appeal for assistance with their inquiry to mark the 41st anniversary of her disappearance.

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Garda have said that the investigation into her disappearance remains live and ongoing.

And they asked anyone "who has tangible evidence to help advance this investigation and bring some comfort to the Boyle family to please come forward".

Last year, protesters gathered at the offices of Donegal County Coroner Dr Denis McCauley to demand an inquest be held into the death of the six-year-old, who went missing close to her grandparents' farm in Ballyshannon.

Joe Craig, Mary's cousin and former spokesman for the Justice for Mary Boyle campaign, said time was running out to find out exactly what happened to her.

He said an inquest could help join the dots in the case and help identify her killer.

Protesters wore purple ribbons and held purple balloons during the silent demonstration in Stranorlar last year.

Mary's twin sister Ann was among the group, which handed in a petition containing more than 10,000 names demanding that an inquest be held.

Speaking at the time, Craig said: "All we are asking for is to allow the events of that day to be pieced together at an inquest so we can move on. Is that too much to ask?"

Mary was last seen leaving her grandparents' home at Cashelard at around 3.30pm on March 18, 1977.

She was following her uncle who had gone to a neighbour's house to return a ladder. Halfway through the journey, she told her uncle she was turning back, and was never seen again.

Despite an exhaustive investigation, no trace of Mary has ever been found and her disappearance is one of the State's longest running missing persons cases.

Gardaí can be contacted at Ballyshannon Garda Station on 071 9858530 or the Garda Confidential Line, 1800 666 111.

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