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The mystery of Mary Boyle: A missing girl, a heartbroken family and a 38-year investigation

The six-year-old went missing in 1977, making her Ireland’s longest missing person.

mary-boyle-310x415-2-310x415 Mary Boyle

IRELAND’S LONGEST MISSING child case is back in the headlines once again.

Mary Boyle (6) disappeared while visiting her grandparents in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal on 18 March 1977. She is presumed dead.

Yesterday, Mary’s twin sister Ann Doherty and Margo O’Donnell, a sister of Daniel and neighbour and distant cousin of the Boyles, were interviewed at Pearse Street Garda Station in Dublin.

Journalist Gemma O’Doherty is working with the women to highlight the case.

Doherty has claimed her sister was killed by somebody known to her. She also believes she was sexually abused before her death.

Speaking to, O’Doherty said Doherty “has known for many years who her sister’s killer is” after a person told her of their identity.

O’Doherty said Doherty recently went to gardaí in Dublin to put the investigation back in the spotlight.

O’Doherty was present at Pearse St Garda Station yesterday and said Doherty was interviewed by gardaí for six hours and submitted a 16-page statement.

She said O’Donnell was interviewed for about five hours and submitted a 10-page statement.

O’Doherty added the women were “exhausted but elated” after the interviews and are hoping the case will finally move forward.

She said gardaí assured the women “that this would be dealt with and no stone would be left unturned”.

“They have to act,” she stated.

The Garda Press Office would not comment on specific elements of the case, but released the following statement to

The disappearance of Mary Boyle, who went missing from near her grandparents’ home in Cashelard, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal on 18 March 1977, is the subject of an ongoing Garda investigation. An Garda Siochána continue to appeal to anyone with information to contact the incident room at Ballyshannon Garda Station on 071 9858530, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told us: “The Minister understands that the disappearance of Mary Boyle is an open and ongoing investigation, and any persons with information should bring it to the attention of An Garda Síochána. Allegations in relation to inappropriate Garda actions are a matter for GSOC.”

A spokesperson for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) said they would not be commenting on the investigation.

Timeline of recent events in the Mary Boyle case:

January 2011: A second review of the case began by An Garda Síochána’s Northern Region.

Members of Mary’s family and gardaí searched an area of bog close to where she was last seen. The dig was instigated by Margo O’Donnell who hired Danish psychic Yan Sterns to aid in the search.

Gardaí released an images of what an adult Mary might look like:

mary 2011

October 2014: A man was arrested in connection to the case, before being released without charge.

At the time, Mary’s mother Ann Boyle told Pat Kenny on Newstalk that she didn’t know the man arrested, but he was “from the general area”.

She said of the disappearance: “My heart was absolutely broken. People went back to their own lives, but I couldn’t … I had to believe she was alive.”

October 2015: Mary’s twin sister Ann Doherty and Margo O’Donnell, a neighbour and distant cousin, are interviewed at Pearse Street Garda Station in Dublin.

Comments are disabled on this post as there is an ongoing Garda investigation. 

Read: ‘My heart was absolutely broken, I had to believe Mary was still alive’

Read: Man (64) arrested over disappearance of Mary Boyle released without charge

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