The remains of a woman missing from her family for 23 years were discovered in a ditch by a digger driver.
The remains were identified four years after the discovery as Margaret Glennon, a ‘hugely missed’ mother of four from Baldoyle, Dublin 13, who had gone missing in 1995.
“She was always a very positive person but her illness had a big impact on her. She is hugely missed by all the family,” her daughter Orla Gannon said, following an inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court.
The woman had undergone cancer treatment the year before she went missing. Mrs Gannon moved home to help care for her mother.
“She was always slight but she lost a lot of weight due to chemotherapy. She never left the house alone,” Mrs Gannon told the inquest.
When family discovered her missing from her home on May 22 1995, they contacted gardaí. Searches and media appeals revealed no trace.
On November 5 2014 JCB driver Lorne Teeling was excavating a ditch in a field at Ravensdale Farm, Bennetts Lane, Malahide, Co Dublin when he spotted something in the digger bucket. Closer inspection revealed it was a skull and gardaí were called.
“It was a dry ditch, it was among leaves, it was not buried,” Mr Teeling said.
Gardaí found no evidence of foul play in relation to the skull. No other remains were discovered despite an extensive search of the area.
An autopsy conducted by Dr Michael Curtis gave the cause of death as undetermined.
“We think the skull might have been detached from the body and moved by animals to the ditch area,” Detective Garda Damien McCormack said.
In February 2018 the Glennon family were contacted to give DNA samples. On October 25 2018 the family received a call informing them that remains had been identified as their missing mother.
Mrs Glennon’s funeral mass was held on November 15 2018.
“There had been an effort to call many families in order that Forensic Science Ireland could help identify unidentified remains. It proved possible after all these years to identify Mrs Glennon,” Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said, returning an open verdict.
“I think we are increasingly aware of how difficult it is for families who do not know what happened to loved ones and spend years wondering,” the coroner said.