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Sisters meet after living separate lives for 67 years

Sisters Joan Crawford Murray, left, and Lesley Fegan after they met for the first time. Picture by Dublin Gazette

TWO sisters have enjoyed an emotional first meeting after living separate lives for 64 years.

Lesley Fagan (64) from Co Fermanagh and Joan Crawford Murray (67), who lives in Australia, met for the first time last week.

Their reunion came 28 years after Ms Fagan had begun her search for her long-lost sister, who was put up for adoption shortly after she was born.

Ms Fagan, who lives in Ballinmallard, began looking for her in 1989 after her mother told her she had a half sister.

Their mother belonged to a devout Catholic family and had hid her pregnancy from her own father.

She put her daughter into a Catholic mother-and-babies home in Manchester in 1948.

"She stayed with her baby for six weeks, which must have been awful, knowing that she would have to give her up," Ms Fagan told the Dublin Gazette.

"When the day finally came, she had to sign some documents to authorise the adoption.

"At this point, the nun left the room and mum saw on the desk the name and address of the prospective parents.

"Mum was able to recite exactly both parent’s names and their address, which was unbelievable, after 50 years."

Ms Fagan said she had made several attempts over the years to trace her sister, but it was only when a Facebook appeal was picked up by two genealogists - Jill Harrington in the UK and Terri O'Neill in Australia, that there was success.

Within a week of their appeal, Ms Fagan said she "found myself staring at a photograph of a lady who looked like myself, but also the model of our mother".

"My sister always wondered about her natural family in England, and her husband, Les, had been recently badgering her to start the search. Now, she doesn’t have to."

Ms Crawford Murray described meeting her sister at Dublin Airport for the first time as "such an incredible feeling".

"Embracing her at last after all this time was like nothing I’ve ever experienced," she said.

"I felt an immediate connection to her and her husband, who I’ve been dying to meet."

She added: "It’s been an incredible journey so far, and I know both of our families will have a wonderful relationship into the future".

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