The bond between Nancy Shanahan and her youngest child, who went missing 16 years ago on a night-out in Limerick, was recalled yesterday at Nancy’s funeral.
Hundreds gathered at the city’s Holy Rosary Church, on Ennis Road, to pay their final respects to Nancy, mother of Aengus “Gussie” Shanahan, who was last seen alive after leaving a pub in the city centre on February 11, 2000.
Nancy and her husband, Bob, a retired bank manager, believed Gussie was murdered and buried. Their continued appeals resulted in informants coming forward. One, a former prisoner, cut off communication after passing on what had been considered compelling details.
A native of Kenmare and a retired school teacher, she never gave up hope her son’s body would be recovered by one of the hundreds of search missions conducted in Limerick City.
Nancy suffered a stroke in 2001 and was cared for by her husband, along with her children, Roibeard, Reiltin, and Grainne.
Addressing mourners, Roibeard recalled the special bond their mother had with her youngest son: “He could read her like no other. When he saw that she may be having a bad day, he would turn on The Furey’s Red Rose Cafeand have a waltz around the kitchen. The biggest blow to mam was when she lost her darling Aengus. Hopefully, they are now having their waltz at the gates of heaven, one last time.”
In his homily, Fr Aquinas Duffy, a nephew of Mrs Shanahan, said the road she had travelled for so many years had been difficult.
“One that was only possible to travel because of the love, sacrifice, patience and support of her family and carers, who stood by her in all her trials,” he said.
The disappearance was a huge blow to her and Bob, and their family, Fr Duffy said: “This was a blow which they could only truly understand and all who have a loved-one missing can understand.
“The searching, the questions, the shattering of hope, the raising of hopes, the desperation, and the knowledge, perhaps, that, out there, someone knows the answers, but chooses to remain silent. The disappearance broke Nancy’s heart and often she would write to me begging me not to give up, but to continue praying and searching. And with the passage of time, it became more difficult, but she never gave up the hope that Gussie would be found.
“And perhaps her hopes have now been fulfilled, in one sense, in that whatever happened to Gussie has been revealed to her in full. And I have no doubt that he was waiting to greet her on the other side”.
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