Cork woman who went missing 44 years ago reunites with man who found her

Cork woman who went missing 44 years ago reunites with man who found her
Colette with her parents after she went missing.

A Cork woman who went missing as a toddler while holidaying in a Butlins holiday camp in 1975 has reunited with the man who found her.

Colette Ryan, from Fermoy, recalled on the Neil Prenderville Show on Cork's RedFM, how at just two-years-old she went missing for over nineteen hours: "My mother took a photograph of my father and my brother and let go of my hand, and in the second it took for her to take the picture, I was gone.

"There was a massive search, I was gone for nineteen hours. I got out through a hole in the fence. It was a 300 acre campsite and I was actually found the following day about two miles from the camp."

The newspaper article from when Colette Ryan went missing. Picture: Cork RedFM 104-106.
The newspaper article from when Colette Ryan went missing. Picture: Cork RedFM 104-106.

She told Neil there was a panic at the time, with attempts to stop a number of coaches leaving the campsite where about 5,000 people were staying, and an additional 1,000 coming and going as day visitors.

The army were involved, as were tracker dogs, and hundreds of volunteers scoured the beaches, chalets and lakes in search of Colette.

She laughs that she had no memory of the event, but that it must have been horrific for her mother, who had to be heavily sedated in the sickbay, she was so distraught.

A couple of years ago, the now 46-year-old grandmother came across an article detailing her disappearance and since went on a mission to try and track down Martin Rowe, the man who found her.

She was having no luck until she came across his Facebook profile yesterday and they spoke to each other this morning.

Martin, now 66, was on his honeymoon when he found the toddler, after spotting her asleep next to a large red ball in the high grass- just a few feet away from the Galway/Dublin railway line.

I was very lucky indeed... If it was today, what chance would I have had?

Colette said she didn't think he realised who she was when she contacted him initially.

"I said, 'I have so much to thank you for, I've had a great life, I'm a mother and I'm a grandmother' and he was just blown away and thanked me for making his day."

While her mother can now see the funny side, her father still to this day refuses to talk about it.

"I think I was on Martin's shoulders," she said, when asked about what happened when she was reunited with her mother.

"They had me up in the air, and there were hundreds of people... I get emotional now when I talk about it, even though I don't remember it, they could hear the cheers from the medical hospital where my mother was, so they knew I was after being found."

Martin, who lives in Naas, Kildare, was on his way to Dublin but said he would get in touch with Colette again this evening and make arrangements to reunite with both her and her mother.

More on this topic

City get first league win in almost three months with defeat over WaterfordCity get first league win in almost three months with defeat over Waterford

East Cork residents raise concerns over Dairygold pipelineEast Cork residents raise concerns over Dairygold pipeline

€100m Dunkettle interchange upgrade delayed by a year€100m Dunkettle interchange upgrade delayed by a year

Family employed at brewery since day it opened — 163 years agoFamily employed at brewery since day it opened — 163 years ago

More in this Section

Gardaí investigating whether fire in Cork was started deliberatelyGardaí investigating whether fire in Cork was started deliberately

Tracker Mortgage Scandal: Hundreds may find their complaints judged out of date Tracker Mortgage Scandal: Hundreds may find their complaints judged out of date

Irish 'blame culture' contributing to shortage of consultantsIrish 'blame culture' contributing to shortage of consultants

HSE spending on agency staff in mental health services nearly twice its budgetHSE spending on agency staff in mental health services nearly twice its budget


Lifestyle

The Leaving Cert points have been tallied, the CAO offers made, and now the hunt is on for student accommodation.Making Cents: Now, first-years must learn how to rent a room

A dermatologist gives their advice on what to do when your skin is suffering from post-partum hormones.How your skin can change post-pregnancy and what you can do about it

Sadly, the deceased Okjokull Glacier might just be the tip of the iceberg.As Iceland mourns a departed glacier – Five glaciers to visit before they disappear

Bride and groom Aoife O’Callaghan and Finbarr McCarthy returned to the scene of their first encounter — and first date — on their big day.Wedding of the week: Aoife and Finbarr's love is true Blue

More From The Irish Examiner