independent

Wednesday 18 October 2017

The man who shunned contact became the centre of media attention

MARIA PEPPER

STUART AND Mick Moore boarded the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead last Thursday evening, carrying the ashes of their younger brother in an urn.

Their departure was the final chapter in a sad and extraordinary story that made national headlines in Ireland, the UK and even received coverage in some American newspapers.

It must have been a surreal journey for the two older siblings who came to Wexford early last week to claim the body of a brother they had not seen in 24 years.

The last time they spoke to him was when their mother died in 1988 and he came down from Brighton for the funeral.

After that, he disappeared from their lives. Six years ago, he missed the funeral of his sister Judith who died from cancer.

Members of the family tried to contact him but without success.

Then a notice appeared recently in the Salford Advertiser asking them to get in touch with Wexford Garda Station.

On arriving in Wexford, the brothers made their way to Mulligan's funeral home in The Faythe where the body had been reposing for nearly a month while Wexford gardai attempted to trace his next of kin.

The brass plate on the coffin read 'Alan Moore, Died January 2012'.

An inexact date of death for a man who didn't like to give away too much information about himself.

People in Wexford knew little or nothing about him and that's the way he seemed to like it.

By contrast, Stuart and Mick were amazingly open on their short, sad visit to the town, freely answering questions from journalists about their brother as best they could given the gap in communication of more than two decades.

They didn't make a demand for privacy and even posed for photographs standing beside the coffin after the brief ecumenical funeral service in Mulligans.

They politely accepted expressions of sympathy from the small gathering of local people, mostly women, who came to pay their respects.

Most of those present had never spoken to Alan Moore - one woman used to see him in SuperValue where he bought his groceries and was struck by the sadness of his death.

Another regularly went past his front door on her evening walk and was on the verge of contacting the gardai herself when she heard about his body being found.

It was a small turn-out by Irish funereal standards but the brothers genuinely appreciated the kindness.

It was the comfort of strangers in a town where their brother hid away for reasons of his own, out of contact even with them.

Graciously, they returned the sympathy, keen to ensure that noone felt responsible for what happened.

'Nobody in Wexford should feel guilty,' said Stuart.

'I know they do but they shouldn't. That's the way Alan chose to live and because he lived alone doesn't mean that he was lonely.'

He tried to explain what Alan was like, drawing on memories up to 1988 when following the death of their mother, he broke away from the rest of the family.

'Alan was a man of at least two sides, if not more. There was the side that we knew, the boy we grew up with as children.'

' Then there was the extrovert who took to the streets to busk, Music was his one true love in life.'

'But there was possibly a third side that we didn't know,' said Stuart.

' We are not the kind of family who live in each other's pockets. We respected Alan and the kind of life he wanted to live.'

He was an intelligent guy but he wasn't interested in a nine to five existence and never held down a steady job in his life.

Also, he may have been reclusive but he wasn't entirely antisocial - despite living alone he took the time to erect a little twinkling Christmas tree in the tiny window of his house.

Stuart was struck by the kind reception he and Mick received in Wexford.

' I can understand now why Alan was so happy here. It obviously is a caring town,' he said.

Before leaving Wexford, the brothers called to Alan's house in Lower John Street and took photographs of the floral tributes laid by townspeople, to show to other family members back in the U.K.

Alan is survived by Stuart and Mick, his three sisters and a son and a daughter.

The irony of Alan Moore's death is that while he chose to hide himself away in life, fate had a different idea in the end.

The man who shunned contact became the centre of media attention.

One can only wonder what he would have thought of it.

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