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Wednesday 13 December 2017

'I want to bring my dad's ashes home to Ireland' - Doctor in bid to find estranged family

Dr Ben Stevens (left) is looking to find the Irish family of his birth father Gerry Monaghan (right)
Dr Ben Stevens (left) is looking to find the Irish family of his birth father Gerry Monaghan (right)
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

A UK doctor has launched a bid to find his Irish relatives so he can bring his father's remains home.

Ben Stevens, a paediatrician in Hertfordshire, was left at a London hospital by his mother as a baby and later adopted when he was five by a loving family.

The 35-year-old began searching for his birth parents around six years ago. However he was heartbroken to discover that his father, Gerry Monaghan, from Co Donegal, had died tragically in a suspected hit-and-run just one year earlier.

The news was especially tragic as Ben learned his father, who was aged in his late 40s when he died, lived just 30 minutes from Ben's London home.

Ben Stevens
Ben Stevens

"I contacted my social worker and they told me had died. That was a bugger!

"Only seven people went to his funeral. It was only 20 minutes away from my house and I would love to have been there."

Despite this Ben made contact with his father's partner Heather and the pair became instantly close. It was only then that Ben saw a picture of his father for the first time.

He admits that it was an emotional experience. "I saw some pictures of Gerry and it was like looking in the mirror. We are so alike."

But tragedy was to strike again just six months later when Heather died suddenly.

"That was a bugger as well," he said. "I was just really getting to know her and I was learning all about my father and the type of person he was."

Gerry Monaghan grew up in Donegal
Gerry Monaghan grew up in Donegal

Ben did make contact with his birth mother and met her once but she then cut off communication.

Now the London doctor said he would like to find his father's family but he told that he doesn't know very much about them.

He explained that his father was born in the mid 60s and was originally from Co Donegal. Ben believes his father had one sister but isn't aware of any other family members.

"I am fascinated to know more about my birth father. I would like to know about where he grew up and my family. I don't think a lot of them talked to Gerry as he had problems with the drink.

"I would like to meet my relatives and to say "Hi". I would like them to see that I turned out pretty okay I am a paediatrician and I have a very happy life."

Ben said he wants to bring his father's ashes to Donegal and the family home.

"At the moment they are in a house and I don't think that's great. I would like to take them somewhere nice."

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