investigation | 

Gardaí hope bone tests hold key to mystery of woman’s skeleton found near Cork railway

Identity of woman remains a mystery after skeletal remains were found near an old railway line on the outskirts of Midleton, Co Cork

Gardai outside Midleton, Co Cork where partial skeletal remains were found on the new Midleton to Youghal Greenway in January 2021. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire© PA


Gardaí are hoping special bone mineral tests may help solve the two-year-old mystery over the identity of a woman’s skeleton found by an old Cork railway line.

It is hoped an analysis of bone mineralisation-calcification tests may help identify the home area of the elderly woman whose skeleton was discovered by the old Midleton railway line in January 2021, narrowing the search zone to confirm the woman’s name.

Such specialist tests have proved crucial in numerous overseas investigations into narrowing down a search area and indicating where a person grew up thanks to specific mineral markers in the bone.

Gardaí believe the woman was from the Cork or the south Munster area.

Despite a two-year investigation and a comparison of the skeleton’s DNA against the National DNA Database, detectives have not been able to confirm an identity for the woman who was aged in her 70s when she died.

A number of theories are still being considered, including that she was the focus of an illegal exhumation after a possible family feud over a grave plot or inheritance.

Another theory is that the woman may have died in someone else’s care and that, for some reason, it was decided to bury her secretly before her body was moved to the abandoned railway line.

Detectives have already canvassed funeral directors and graveyard caretakers in the greater east Cork area in an attempt to discover how the elderly woman’s remains ended up by the railway line.

They specifically asked about any unusual activity surrounding graves or graveyards between five and ten years ago.

Gardaí have appealed for information about the woman’s identity, with detectives convinced that someone in the area has vital information.

“Investigating gardaí are continuing to appeal to the public for assistance in bringing this case to a conclusion,” a spokesperson said.

“Anyone with information about the remains is asked to contact Midleton Garda station on 021 4621550, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or alternatively make a call to any garda station.”

The woman’s skeleton was discovered on January 5, 2021 by workmen clearing sections of the old Midleton-Youghal railway line

She was in her 70s at the time of her death, was 152cm to 157cm in height, had a large frame or build, wore dentures and her joints indicated she suffered from arthritis.

When discovered, she was wearing a white, old-style night dress that was 127cm in length.

The woman’s body may have lain by the railway embankment for between five and ten years. ​

Small pieces of timber and an old crucifix recovered at the site may have originated from a coffin.

Gardaí have obtained a genetic profile, dental analysis, carbon dating and forensic results from old clothing and a piece of religious jewellery found at the site. False teeth were also found at the site.

Detectives worked through a 30-year record of missing persons to narrow their search. National missing persons files were also cross-referenced with the search extended beyond Cork county.

However, gardaí do not have any matching missing person file from the local area that matches the deceased.

A full post-mortem examination was conducted and a forensic anthropologist has been assisting gardaí with their investigation.

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos