Monday 24 October 2016

'Mammy, I love you', were missing Ciara's last words to mum

The window where Ciara is believed to have left the house
The window where Ciara is believed to have left the house
Ciara Breen

This is the window that teenager Ciara Breen hoped to enter her home through 18 years ago - but instead disappeared without trace.

As searches continued for her body not far away on bogland near the town's train station, Ciara's mother, Bernadette, is anxiously awaiting news that may finally end the heartbreaking mystery of what happened to her only daughter.

She told the Herald that gardai are giving her a daily update on their progress.

"They are in regular contact with me since they started this search and they get in touch daily to keep me informed," she said.

"From the day Ciara disappeared the gardai have been great, they really have," she said.

Ciara was just 17 when she left her home on Bachelor's Walk in Dundalk the day before Valentine's Day in 1997. Gardai and Bernadette believe she left this window on the latch so she would be able to return home without anyone knowing she was gone.

She and her mother had come home from the town earlier and Ciara told Bernadette that she was going to go to bed.

The last words Ciara said to her mother were: "Mammy, don't worry about anything, I love you. I'll see you in the morning."

But when Bernadette got up just before 2am to use the bathroom she noticed Ciara was gone. She stayed up all night waiting for her to return.

"I think she went out the front door and left the window off the latch to get back in. I sat the whole night waiting for her to come back," Bernadette explained.


Gardai are hoping that extensive searches they are conducting on marshland on the outskirts of the town following a tip-off from what is believed to be a reliable source will lead to the location of her body.

But they face an uphill battle against poor terrain, an overgrown landscape and boggy marshland fed by a river.

However, if they do find her, they hope that the marshy conditions may provide an environment that would have preserved her remains enough to yield clues as to how she died, and who may have killed her.

Diggers cleared vegetation over a wide area, and trees and bushes were cut away to allow a team of searchers and members of the garda water unit to comb it in more detail.

"They seem to be working on solid information. I've never seen a search so big for her as this one. They're putting a lot of resources into this one," said a local man as he watched the diggers methodically strip the surface from the ground.

Gardai invited the media to the site at Balmor's Bog last Tuesday as they started combing the area after receiving a "serious lead" in Ciara's case.

For years, the investigation into Ciara's disappearance moved slowly without much to go on.

Gardai suspected that she had been in a relationship with an older man.

A man in his 50s, not related to Ciara, was arrested in April in relation to her disappearance but was later released without charge and a file sent to the DPP. He had previously been arrested in 1999 and also released then.

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