The family of a Galway mother who disappeared 32 years ago have made an heart-wrenching plea for people with information on the disappearance to come forward.
Mother of seven Barbara Walsh was last seen by one of her daughters lying on a couch in the family home in Rusheenamanagh near Carna in the Connemara Gaeltacht in the early hours of 22 June 1985. At the time of her disappearance Barbara’s children were aged from seventeen down to a nine-month-old baby.
Speaking on Tuesday night’s RTÉ Prime Time programme, her daughter Jacqui told of being the last person to see her mother.
In the hours before Barbara’s disappearance, around a dozen people had gathered in the Walsh family home for an impromptu gathering. Two Gardai were among those to join the family in the house for tea and sandwiches which Barbara prepared. The party ended but just hours later Barbara disappeared, and there has been no trace of her since.
Jacqui Walsh was 14 years old at the time.“I woke up, and I just went down to the kitchen,” she told RTÉ Prime Time. “Mum was asleep on the couch. So I tried to wake her up to see if she would go back to bed. And she didn’t, so I just put a pillow under her head and a blanket on her. When I got up in the morning she was gone.”
Tonight’s programme outlined how a theory was initially given credence that Barbara Walsh would return home, or would be found safe elsewhere. It was a number of months after she disappeared before any publicity was given to the case.
After Barbara’s disappearance her husband MacDara continued to raise their children in the home. MacDara Walsh died in 2007.
Jacqui Walsh was joined by her sister Catherine in last night’s programme to appeal for people to give information.
“Mum wouldn’t walk out on us, on seven kids, there’s no way. She was a proud woman, she was a good mother. And I’m sure someone does know what happened. It’s not too late for somebody to say something. It’s never too late,” said Catherine.
A complete re-investigation of the case is currently being undertaken by Gardai who have taken 70 witness statements as part of the review of the case. A five day excavation of lands around Barbara’s house in 2015 failed to find any trace of the missing 34 year old.
Jacqui Walsh told RTÉ Prime Time reporter Barry Cummins there are other parts of Carna she has asked Gardai to search. “I believe there are people still alive with direct knowledge of what happened to our mother,” she said.
The RTÉ Prime Time programme also went behind the scenes of the ongoing Garda investigation which is examining if Barbara was murdered and if so by who.
Detective Inspector Mick Coppinger said he believed the information about Barbara is very local to Carna.
“Barbara’s children are still awaiting their mother to come home. People have moved on with their lives. They cannot move on, need their mother. They need their mother back, they need to account for what happened to their mother.”
Anyone with information on Barbara’s case should contact the Garda Confidential line on 1800 666 111.