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'A mixture of joy and sadness' for family of Gussie Shanahan as gardaí confirm 2001 remains belong to him

The 20-year-old man has been missing for 18 years.

Updated Oct 23rd 2018, 2:51 PM

GARDAÍ HAVE CONFIRMED that partial remains discovered in Co Clare, in 2001 have now been identified as those of Aengus ‘Gussie’ Shanahan, who went missing in Limerick in 2000.

The 20-year-old had last been seen on Old School House Lane after leaving Cooper’s Bar in Limerick city on 11 February that year.

Today gardaí said that developments in DNA technologies allowed for a re-examination of partial remains that were found at Quay Island on 28 October 2001.

The remains, which were foot bone fragments, were compared against samples submitted from the relatives of missing persons and they have now been confirmed as those of Gussie Shanahan.

His father Bob Shanahan described “being struck by a thunderbolt” after receiving the news. He said he was told last night that the remains belonged to his son. 

“I’m struggling with it. It’s a mixture of joy and sadness. Sadness because it means that [Aengus] is dead, and joy because we now have some closure,” he said. 

“This is something we have wanted all along. We have been struck by a thunderbolt.”

‘It never leaves you’

Gardaí said a family liaison officer has kept in contact with the family throughout the investigation and they have been informed of the DNA results. They have requested privacy at this time.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie just last month at the family home in Limerick, Aengus’ father Bob had urged those who knew about his son’s disappearance to come forward. He said he believed his son had been murdered and just wanted to have his remains back so he could give him a proper burial.

Aengus’ mother Nancy died three years ago, without ever knowing what had happened to her son.

“My wife died of a broken heart. She’s with him now. It would make a difference to get his body back so we can bury him with his mother – that was her dying wish. And I don’t want to hand it on to the next generation of the family, it affects everyone,” Bob Shanahan said last month.

nancy Aengus, pictured here with his mother Nancy, was the youngest of four children Source: Michelle Hennessy/TheJournal.ie

“And it’s a kind of a double loss now, herself was a character as well and she was great company. The house is empty. The family and grandkids arrive in but… His mother was always hoping before she died we’d get something and I’m the same now. It never leaves you.”

Shanahan said he had been contacted a number of years ago by a man who claimed to know what happened to Aengus. 

He said what happened to Gussie is that there was a bit of a skirmish in town and it went overboard, it went too far.

“But the story is that he was thrown over a wall. We’ve tried all sorts of places, graveyards or whatever. Our own belief – we accept that he’s been knocked off. There was no bank card used and that would be unusual for him. And I don’t think he took his own life, he was in good form. I think he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said. 

His final movements

On 11 February 2000, Aengus met his father after work – he had a job at the local Dell factory – and paid him back money he had borrowed, as he always did. He said he was staying that night at a friend’s flat in town as they were planning to go to the Temple of Sound nightclub, which was closing down.

The young man was wearing new clothes his sisters had bought for his birthday three weeks earlier. He headed to Cooper’s Bar, across the road from the friend’s flat on Joseph’s Street. 

CCTV at 10.30pm that night showed him leaving the bar with bottle in his hand. He went to knock on the door of the flat, but then stopped and instead headed town a laneway which was a shortcut to the nightclub. 

He has not been seen since. 

‘Major development’

Investigators at Roxboro Road have now commenced a review of the circumstances of the young man’s disappearance. Superintendent Eamon O’Neill described the DNA confirmation as a “major development” in the investigation. 

He said there would be an extensive review which investigators hope will be completed by Christmas. For now, the case remains a missing person investigation.

“My appeal is that anyone with any interaction with Aengus Shanahan after 10.30pm, which was the last confirmed sighting of him, or anyone who saw him or was in his company, would come forward,” O’Neill said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Roxboro Road garda station on 061 214340, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

- With reporting by David Raleigh in Limerick.

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