AUDREY Fitzpatrick's anxiety and frustration were clearly visible when I first met her in Spain with her partner Dave Mahon.
It was just days after the disappearance of her 15-year-old daughter Amy on New Year's Day in 2008.
She was visibly under great strain as she tried to cope with a deepening fear that Amy had not just run away but had been murdered.
She was trying to cope and to care for her only other child, her then-teenage son Dean (17) and to keep abreast of the investigation being conducted by the Spanish police.
Dean was heartbroken by his sister's disappearance.
Two weeks after she vanished, Dean wrote a public letter to Amy, appealing for his only sister to make contact with the family if she had decided to run away.
Heartbreakingly, he declared that everyone was "really scared."
Dean wrote: "We really miss you and are all worried sick. Mam is crying all the time and the house is empty without you and all your noise."
Audrey was determined to ensure that the Herald and the other newspapers that sent journalists from Ireland made her daughter's disappearance their top story.
She need not have worried.
Most media outlets, the Herald included, continued to give blanket coverage to the search for Amy.
Whenever she was seen in public, protective Dave Mahon was always by Audrey's side.
We learned very little then of Dave Mahon's day-to-day life in Spain except that he was believed to work in the area of property management. We were told that Audrey had been doing some bar work to help make ends meet.
Amy's father Christopher Fitzpatrick was living in Dublin and Audrey and himself had parted company.
Some years later, Audrey had taken Dean and Amy away from Dublin to live in Spain with her new partner Dave Mahon.
It was New Year's Day, 2008, and Amy had just spent New Year's Eve night and some of the following day at the home of her friend Ashley Rose (13), just a couple of kilometres away from Amy's home in Riviera Del Sol.
Amy left Ashley to walk home that night alone – and then she vanished.
We spoke with her pal Ashley and Ashley's mum Debbie Rose. We also spoke with the parents of other friends who said they had been worried about Amy's behaviour in the weeks and months before her disappearance.
They claimed that Amy had been missing large numbers of days from school and did not appear to them to have a regular routine.
Amy's father Christopher later journeyed to the Costa del Sol. It was stated that Amy was anxious to move back to Dublin and begin a new life in her native city as an apprentice hairdresser.
Years later, Spanish police said three witnesses claimed to have seen Amy later on the night she disappeared in a local bar in the company of an unidentified blonde woman.
Tragedy was to strike another blow to the family when Amy's cousin Beverley O'Sullivan (28), a talented singer who released a CD to raise funds for the search for Amy, was killed in a car crash in India less than two years after Amy vanished.
Still Audrey kept highlighting her daughter's disappearance – her efforts ensuring that Amy remained in people's minds.
She travelled widely throughout the Costa del Sol with him, distributing posters with her daughter's details.
She even contacted the media when Dave Mahon was arrested as part of an investigation into loud music coming from their home.
He ended up in media stories when he was banned from driving for three years after being found to have been drink driving in Dublin on an anniversary of Amy's disappearance.
The couple were very successful in seeking to speak with people in the highest levels of society seeking help for the search for Amy.
They had lengthy meetings with the then Taoiseach Brian Cowen and later with Taoiseach Enda Kenny. They also met with senior Spanish politicians. But Audrey remained robust in criticising any perceived lack of effort by the authorities.
Dean eventually moved back to Dublin.
Audrey and Dave Mahon decided in the end to return to live in Dublin, stating they had spent all their savings on their campaign to promote the search for Amy.