Friday 18 October 2019

New inquest in Wales could bring closure in Pauline case

By Fintan Lambe

IT'S thought that the unidentified remains of a woman who washed up on the Welsh coastline in October 1994, may be those of a woman who disappeared from North Wexford some eight months previously.

Pauline Finlay, (49), who had a mobile holiday home at Old Bawn mobile home park near Cahore, disappeared on March 25, 1994 while walking her two dogs on Old Bawn beach. In the following days and weeks, extensive searches were carried out on the water and along the coastline but no trace of her was ever found.

Recently, police in North Wales began an investigation to try to identify 17 unidentified bodies that they have in their records, and contacted An Garda Síochána.

RTÉ reporter Barry Cummins, who broke the story last week, said that the fresh look at the case led to gardaí suggesting Pauline Finlay was a possible match. 'A DNA sample was taken from the family in July of this year and compared to a sample from the unidentified woman in recent weeks,' he said. 'Very recently the family of Pauline Finlay has been told that the DNA gives a strong indication that the unidentified body that has been buried in North Wales and cared for by local people there for 22 years is in fact Pauline Finlay.'

'This would mean, if it is proven, that her body travelled across the Irish sea over those months in 1994, a distance of 130 kilometres,' he said. 'The North Wales coroner Mr. Dewi Pritchard-Jones is going to reopen the inquest into the unidentified body and it is he who will make a determination on whether the body is that of Pauline Finlay.'

Gerry O'Loughlin, honorary secretary of Cahore inshore lifeboat which was set up in the months after her disappearance, said he remembered Pauline well, as she and her husband Joe were well-known in the local community. 'They had a mobile home in O'Loughlin's at Old Bawn, and they had bought property near Ballygarrett, and planned to live here,' he said. 'She went to the beach every evening from the park, with her two dogs.'

He said it was a 'fairly fine evening' on the day she disappeared. She was supposed to go see a musical in Gorey with friends, but didn't turn up. Word arrived during the interval that she was missing. The dogs were found on the beach.

Courtown RNLI lifeboat and fishing boats from Cahore and Courtown commenced a major search for at least a week, while a shore search went on for two months. Friends, family, and members of local clubs took part. Joe was a member of local angling and gun clubs, and the members helped on a rota of searches with other volunteers.

'I always wondered what happened to her,' said Gerry. 'Hopefully for Joe and the rest of her family, it will bring closure for them. It's a very tragic thing but hopefully it will be closure for them. It should have come out long ago.'

Wexford People

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