Northern Ireland news

Inquest to open into death of missing man whose body washed across Irish Sea

70-year-old Patrick Healy vanished from his home in Dublin in September 1986. Picture from RTE/Healy family
John Monaghan

AN INQUEST is to begin today into the death of a missing Dublin man who was last seen alive at his home 34 years ago and whose body was found washed up ashore on a beach in northern England.

Patrick Healy (70) vanished after leaving his home in Cabra on September 20 1986 indicating that he intended to head to Dublin's coastline.

A month later a body was discovered on the other side of the Irish Sea, on a beach close to the village of Silecroft in Cumbria.

Badly decomposed, and with no definitive way to prove that it was Patrick Healy, the body was interred in Whitehaven Cemetery in Cumbria.

For the next 34 years the family - including Patrick's wife who died during the intervening period - were left without concrete answers.

According to an RTÉ report into the case, there are several dozen bodies which have washed up on the shores of Britain which may be those of missing Irish people.

In Patrick Healy's case, advances in DNA technology meant that investigators finally hit a breakthrough this year.

After a delay caused by Covid-19, his body was exhumed in July and his DNA was matched to that of his daughter Mary.

His body was taken home to Dublin - with the assistance of the Co-Down based Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust - where a private cremation service took place.

An inquest into his death will open today in Cumbria, with Patrick's granddaughter Alison among those who will attend proceedings remotely.

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