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Eimear Ni Bhraonain: Nothing can take away the pain of losing a child

BURYING a child is every mother's nightmare. Winnie Greene had already lost one son -- and she buried her husband just nine years ago.

But nothing could prepare her for the killing of her beloved Marie.

Wails came from her home in St Mel's Terrace early yesterday morning. The horror of what happened to Marie in her final moments was unfolding.

Winnie's other daughter, Julie, was trying to comfort her mother but she knew there was nothing she could do to take the pain away.

The worry was visible in Julie's face as she stood in her dressing gown in the doorway of the family's home at 10am yesterday. Her two brothers paced up and down outside.

Less than five minutes away -- in a bog off a busy road to Mullingar just outside of Athlone -- a handful of forensic officers had narrowed the focus of their search.

Acting on information, officers honed in on a specific area of bogland. They knew there was a body in the bog and they contacted the office of the state pathologist.

Back in St Mel's the horrific reality was starting to sink in. Marie -- whom her family cherished and relied upon for everything -- was killed and buried in an isolated bog.

No matter what, Marie did not deserve to suffer a violent death and have her body abandoned, her family said.

Marie was known to everyone in Athlone. She was a familiar face around town. She walked her little dogs and did shopping for her mother. She was often seen going to the chip shop carrying loose change in her hands -- and that is where her mother thought she was off to when she last said goodbye to her on Sunday, February 13.

She was on her mobile phone when she walked out the door but never returned.

An unmarked garda car pulled up at the bogland at the crack of dawn yesterday as the search resumed for Marie's body. State Pathologist Marie Cassidy arrived at the scene at lunchtime and she carried out her initial post-mortem inside a small blue tent.

The only shelter in the open space was a few trees nearby.

Flynn's funeral directors arrived and the remains were removed to Mullingar General Hospital where a full post-mortem examination was due to be carried out.

Gardai have not officially confirmed the identity of the body they found, but everyone is certain it is Marie.

Scores of people concerned about what happened stood and talked in disbelief on Pearse Street in Athlone yesterday. As darkness descended on the town, Marie's little brown dog waited outside her home for his owner to return -- but she never will.

Irish Independent