Tests to confirm identity of Irish pilgrim

TESTS are expected to confirm this morning that a woman’s body found at Medjugorje is that of missing Irish pilgrim Winnie Brady.

Ms Brady’s husband, Stephen, travelled to the pilgrimage town in central Bosnia last night after officials there confirmed the discovery at a site about 3km from where she had been staying.

Mr Brady said before he left Dublin Airport yesterday that the officials were 99% certain they had found his wife. “The only [means of] identification was rings and what she was wearing. When they mentioned the rings, those were the rings Winnie wore.”

Dental records were also faxed to Medjugorje yesterday which are expected to provide indisputable proof that the remains are those of Mrs Brady, and the formal identification will take place this morning.

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday afternoon in an attempt to establish the cause of Ms Brady’s death or provide any clues to explain the mystery of her final moments.

The 59-year-old mother of five from Raheny in Dublin vanished on September 6 last, five days into a group trip to the Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a group of local people.

She was last seen by staff at the guesthouse where she was staying, saying she was going for a walk, and she left all her personal belongings, including her medication, behind. She suffered with arthritis, but was otherwise in good health and her disappearance baffled her distressed family who travelled to the area for a time last year to help with the search.

Mr Brady said yesterday he had never given up hope of finding his wife. “I really thought she would be alive. I thought maybe she just lost her memory or something like that or maybe she fell and hit her head. That’s what I was hoping for,” he told RTÉ news.

Searches continued well into last November, assisted by a Garda stationed in Bosnia with the European Union peacekeeping mission who arranged for a police helicopter to help scour the mountainous terrain.

The Brady family are to receive full details of the discovery when they meet with Department of Foreign Affairs official Jillian O’Keeffe, a senior official with the Irish Embassy in Ljubljana in Slovenia.

Mr Brady praised the assistance he and his family had received from the Department since his wife’s disappearance.

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