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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 27 July 2021

Funeral takes place of man who went missing in 2004 after remains found in Cork last month

Barry Coughlan went missing on 1 May 2004.

Barry Coughlan
Barry Coughlan
Image: Garda Press Office

THE PRIVATE FUNERAL has taken place of a young man who went missing in 2004 after a breakthrough in the case came when his remains were found in a car located off the pier in Crosshaven, Co Cork last month.

In a notice on Rip.ie the parents of Barry Coughlan thanked “everyone who has helped and supported them over the last seventeen years.”

Coughlan, who disappeared without trace when he was 23 years old, is survived by his parents Jim and Marie and his sister Donna, extended family and a large circle of friends.

The family has asked that donations be made to Cork City Missing Persons Search and recovery in lieu of flowers.

A file will now be prepared for the Coroner by investigating Gardaí.

Coughlan went missing on 1 May 2004. He was last seen leaving the Moonduster pub in his home town of Crosshaven.

He had started work as a fisherman and was due back to Castletownbere on 2 May, the day after his disappearance.

In 2007 his sister Donna told RTE’s “Pobal” that there was nothing that she and her only sibling wouldn’t talk about. The pair were great friends.

“Barry would always come home on his time off and make contact with us when he was away.

“He had started on a fishing boat in Castletownbere and was home for the week before he went missing. He was in great form, top of the world. He was perfect.”

The family never gave up hope of finding Barry and were baffled by his disappearance which was very out of character. They made frequent media appeals for information on the case.

A breakthrough came when Gardaí found skeletal remains in a Toyota Corolla hatchback which was found submerged in water off Hugh Coveney pier in Crosshaven on 26 May. The car was confirmed to be that of Coughlan.

The remains were transferred to Cork City morgue where an examination was carried out. DNA analysis was then conducted by Forensic Science Ireland.

The discovery of the car was made by volunteers from the Cork Missing Persons Search and Recovery Group using a newly purchased Starfish 990S sonar.

Fr Aquinas Duffy, who set up a missing persons website over twenty years ago, is among those who have offered their condolences to the Coughlan family.

“Deepest sympathy to the Coughlan family at this sad time. After a very long number of years searching he has been found. Now his family can lay him to rest. May he rest in peace.”

Fr Duffy believes that families should never give up hope of finding out what occurred to their loved ones as advances in technology led to the identification of his missing nephew in 2018 – eighteen years after he disappeared.

The remains of Aengus “Gussie” Shanahan were laid to rest in November 2018 alongside his late mother Nancy. He was just 20 when he vanished without trace in Limerick.

His skeletal remains, consisting of foot bone fragments, were found by members of Bunratty Search and Rescue Service at Bunratty in October 2001 over a year and a half after Gussie went missing.

Forensic Science Ireland managed to positively identify the remains of Shanahan in 2018 after advances in technology allowed them to extract DNA from the fragments.

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Fr Duffy says the identification of the remains of his nephew and Coughlan shows that families should never give up hope of finding answers.

“The identification of Gussie Shanahan and others should give people hope. I never ever thought that would happen. And yet through advances in forensic science it has literally ended the nightmare for a number of families. My hope is that it will continue to identify more.”

Fr Duffy said whilst the family of Shanahan are still without answers as to what happened after he left Cooper’s bar in Limerick on 11 February 2000 it was a huge source of comfort to be able to give him a funeral.

“Being able to give him a funeral was important. The sad thing was that his mother had died two years previously. She never got to see that end of it.”

Fr Duffy admits that it can be a massive shock when a breakthrough happens in a case after many years without news.

He paid tribute to members of the Cork Missing Persons Search and Recovery Group who located the car owned by Barry Coughlan.

He said getting answers was important for families with missing loved ones.

“Finding out what has happened is so welcome for any family. You would be thinking to yourself ‘are they abroad?’ But when people find a car or a number plate that is at least something. All people want is an answer.”

About the author:

Olivia Kelleher

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