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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 23 February, 2020

Body of Irish man missing for 36 years found in Welsh grave through DNA

Conor Whooley went missing from Dublin in 1983.

File photo of a grave behind flowers.
File photo of a grave behind flowers.
Image: Shutterstock/Ivanka Kunianska

THE BODY OF an Irish man who was missing for 36 years has been recently identified in a grave in Wales due to advances in DNA technology. 

Conor Whooley vanished from Dublin in August 1983 when he was 24 years old. His body was recently identified in a grave in north Wales through his mother’s DNA. 

RTÉ’s Barry Cummins has reported that the body was identified after Whooley’s mother got in touch with gardaí.

She had watched an episode of RTÉ’s Crime Call which issued an appeal for families of long-term missing persons to compare DNA samples to unidentified bodies in Britain and Ireland. 

Conor’s brother Seán Whooley said their mother was currently still alive, so it was “great that she is able to see the end of the story”.

“We always expected a call, but as the years went on – 35, 36 years – we never really expected anything,” Whooley told RTÉ News

His brother’s remains were found on a beach in north Wales a number of months after he went missing in Ireland.  

Their mother’s DNA matched up with that of this body that washed up on the shores of Wales 36 years ago. 

An Garda Síochána sergeant Richie Lynch said this case was the third successful identification in cooperation with police in north Wales. 

He added that upward of 115 bodies have washed up on the western seaboard, so “logic would dictate” some could be from Ireland. 

Detective sergeant Don Kenyon in north Wales said many bodies could have come from Ireland. 

“If somebody goes into the water in Wales, it’s actually unlikely that they will end up on Angelsey and that’s an area where these bodies have turned up. it’s far more likely that they’ve come from the south-east coast of Ireland,” Kenyon told RTÉ News. 

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