Sunday 15 December 2019

Tears as father of missing Philip Cairns laid to rest

Philip Cairns who went missing in Rathfarnham in 1986
Philip Cairns who went missing in Rathfarnham in 1986
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The father of a schoolboy who went missing almost three decades ago was today laid to rest.

Philip Cairns Snr passed away peacefully at Tallaght Hospital, surrounded by his family on Sunday, following an illness.

Mr Cairns had campaigned relentlessly to find answers after his son disappeared while walking back from school in 1986 in Rathfarnham.

Mr Cairns died just three months shy of the 28th anniversary of his son’s disappearance.

He is survived by his wife, Alice and five of their six children, Mary, Sandra, Helen, Suzanne and Eoin.

Philip (13) disappeared on the afternoon of 23 October1986 while walking back to his school, Colaiste Eanna, where he had been a first year student for just over a month.

Around 200 mourners at Holy Spirit Church, in the family’s home of Rathfarnham were today told of Mr Cairns love of fishing.

They were also told about how he used to joke with his children about how he’d lost part of his arm “in a shark attack.”

Former justice minister Alan Shatter was among those in  attendance.

A large-scale investigation was carried out but no trace of his son was ever found.

Mysteriously, his schoolbag was subsequently discovered lying in a laneway linking Anne Devlin Road and Anne Devlin Drive, which had previously been searched.

The bag contained some of Philip’s books, but his geography book and two religion books (Christian Way 1 and the Good News New Testament) were missing.

Forensic tests on the bag did not reveal any information.

Local Fianna Fail councillor John Lahart said he had grown up on the road where the Cairns family lived, saying: “Philip has never been forgotten by the people of Ballyroan.”

“Philip Senior’s death will be felt very much by the people here,” he added.

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