Mystery | 

Four decades after he went missing the family of Albert Timmins still search for answers

'After 41 years, none of us ever got over or accepted the sudden disappearance of our father'
Carol Morris holds a photo of her father Albert Timmins with his late wife Margaret

Carol Morris holds a photo of her father Albert Timmins with his late wife Margaret

Catherine Fegan

On each of the five occasions Carol Morris has visited a morgue to find out if an unidentified body was her father, she always held out the same hope.

"I would be hoping it would be him this time," she told the Sunday World. "Just to have an answer, even though we believe he is no longer alive, we wanted that confirmation.

"Back in the 80s, there were no mobile phones, so if there was a report of a body found washed up on a beach we would call the gardaí.

"If they thought there was any chance it could be Dad, they would get you in. We were chasing reports all the time. I would come away, after confirming it wasn't him, so disheartened. You would be back to square one and it would bring it all back up again."

Albert Timmins, a steno-typist with the Irish Independent, was a widower living in Swords, Co Dublin, with three children - Liam (24), Carol (16) and Tricia (12) - when he left to visit a friend on December 23, 1980.

The 58-year-old never returned, disappearing without trace. Four decades on, his devastated family are still searching for answers. A year before his disappearance, Albert's wife, Margaret (48), died suddenly as a result of a clot following a broken leg.

"Dad took my mother's death very badly," Ms Morris said.

"He just went into himself. My brother Liam was married and living with his wife Anne and myself and my sister Trish were still at home. I remember telling Liam about what I was seeing, just different little things that made me think Dad wasn't coping very well.

"Liam said we should get him to see the GP. We convinced Dad to go and see him and the doctor had a chat with him, but he said he didn't need anything. A few weeks later, he was gone."

On the day he disappeared, Mr Timmins had arranged to meet a friend for a drink in the Viscount pub in Whitehall, Dublin. Carol was in her grandmother's house when her father dropped off her sister, Tricia, saying he would be back to pick them both up at 10pm. He did arrive at his friend's house in Santry, and invited him to come out for a drink, but his friend was sick and did not go.

"He went into the Viscount, and a barman who saw him said he had one drink and left," Ms Morris said. "He left in time to collect us at 10pm, but he was never seen since. We don't know whether he turned right, left or what he did."

Mr Timmins drove a white Wolseley, registration number YZU 896. No one reported seeing the car, or him, after that.

"Looking back now, I think he took his own life," Ms Morris said. "I believe he was overcome with grief over Mam and drove himself into the sea somewhere. But at the time, being left with no answers and being so young, it was horrible."

In the years after their father's disappearance, Ms Morris and Liam, along with their late aunt Maisie, visited the morgue up to five times in the hope of finding Mr Timmins.

"People don't think of that," Ms Morris said. "Families of missing people have to do it all the time. At this stage, a finger or a nail is all we want. I know that sounds terrible, but we want to bring him home."

Two years ago, the Timmins family submitted samples to the National DNA Database in the hope a match can be found.

The recent case of Denis Walsh Jr has given the family hope. Mr Walsh's family were informed last February that his partial remains had been discovered 25 years ago.

They were held in a hospital mortuary for 18 years and were eventually buried in a communal grave in Galway.

"It shows it is never too late," Ms Morris said. "We accepted our mother's death, but none of us ever accepted or got over Dad's disappearance.

"My brother, Liam, died eight weeks ago. A few days before he passed we were talking about Dad. He said to me, 'Carol, wouldn't it be great if we found out what happened the old man before we die?'

"Now I want that more than ever."

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