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Incredible story New twist in tale of siblings abandoned as babies as third child revealed to be brother

In your wildest dreams you couldn’t make it up’


Newspaper cuttings from journalist Paul Murphy’s story in 1956 in the Evening Press

Newspaper cuttings from journalist Paul Murphy’s story in 1956 in the Evening Press

Newspaper cuttings from journalist Paul Murphy’s story in 1956 in the Evening Press

It was the story of two long-lost siblings, both abandoned in mysterious circumstances, only to find their way back to each other many years later.

A baby boy discovered in a red-tartan duffel back in the driveway of a house in Belfast in 1962.

Then, in 1968, a baby girl, found in a phonebox, again in a red tartan duffel bag, this time in Dundalk.

Without birth records or parents, the two abandoned babies, or foundlings as they are known, were adopted and grew up as David McBride and Helen Ward.

Last year, after the foundlings were reunited in the ITV show Long Lost Families, they were interviewed in the Herald, describing finding each other after so many years as a "miracle".

But there was more to come.

It can now be revealed that a third baby, left in a phonebox in Drogheda in 1965, is David and Helen's brother.

"It's an incredible story," said Paul Murphy, the man who found the Drogheda baby on Laurence street in the town more than 50 years ago.


Helen Ward, John and David McBride meet for first time

Helen Ward, John and David McBride meet for first time

Helen Ward, John and David McBride meet for first time


The Herald contacted Paul last year after the son of a local garda in Drogheda read David and Helen's story and thought there may have been a link to an abandoned baby case his late father had worked on.

The trail brought the Herald to local journalist Paul Murphy, who discovered the baby, known as John, on the way home from a drama group rehearsal in 1965.

It turned out that Paul had reconnected with John in 2013 and the two had formed a close friendship.

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At Helen and David's request, Paul pointed John to their story, asking him if he would consider talking to them about a possible connection.

In a separate twist, to be revealed next week in ITV's Long Lost Family: What Happened Next, John's daughter Donna watched the program about Helen and David finding each other and noticed some striking physical resemblances to her father.

After making contact with the Long-Lost Family team, Donna and her father agreed to do DNA tests.

Incredibly, it emerged that all three foundlings are full siblings.

In an emotional reunion, captured on screen, David and Helen meet their brother John for the first time

John says: "Just to actually look into their eyes and just see - is there a similar person looking back at you? At least someone else will have something in common with me."

Also featured in the hour-long TV special, airing next Tuesday night on ITV, is Paul, a veteran journalist, who was 21 when he found baby John.

The story, written by Paul featured on the front page of the Evening Press in 1965.

"The connection was only confirmed when the DNA results came in earlier this summer," Paul told the Herald last week.

"John came and showed them to me, his daughter had prodded him along in pursuing this.

"It's an incredible story - the whole thing is astounding."

Paul and his friend Pat were walking along Laurence Street at midnight on May 2, 1965 when they heard the cries of a baby close by.

Inside a telephone box on the street, the two men discovered a baby boy, lying swaddled in a blue blanket inside in a holdall.

"We were two young fellas, only 21, and it wasn't the kind of thing you would expect on your walk home." said Paul.

After the baby was taken to the local hospital, Paul phoned the story over to a copytaker and it ended up on the front page of the Evening Press on May 3.

The baby disappeared from Paul's life, until 48 years later he contacted the Drogheda Independent, where Paul was working, looking for his contact details.

"It was a shock for me," recalled Paul.

"I had often thought of him, every May, because it was always the anniversary. Then he suddenly appeared out of the blue.

"He rang the paper looking for a contact for me and the next morning he was standing in the local hotel waiting for me.

"I brought him up to the place where he had been found. The phonebox was long gone but it was an emotional journey for him.

"He told me he was adopted, that he had two wonderful adoptive parents and that his life was a good one. We have become firm friends."

David McBride was discovered by Claire Pullen, the wife of a Belfast GP, in the front seat of her car in January 1962.

The baby was tucked inside a red-tartan duffel bag.

The following day, the story of the baby left in a driveway appeared on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph, but no one came forward to claim him.

Across the border, six years later, another stranger was to make a similar discovery.

Donal Boyle, a lorry driver from Croom, Co Cork was on his way to Belfast in March 1968 when he stopped in Dundalk to make a call. Inside a phonebox close to a local hospital, he found a red-tartan duffel bag with a baby girl stowed safely inside.

Again, efforts to trace the baby's parents proved unsuccessful.

In adulthood, after leading a media campaign for years, he submitted his DNA sample to ITV's Long Lost Family and a match came up for a full sister, Helen.

David and Helen's mother was a Catholic who had a love affair spanning almost 40 years with their father, a married man with 14 children. Both lived in Dublin.

"Our father was a musician who played in a Dublin dancehall and I presume that's how they met," David told the Herald last year.

"Our mother worked in retail. She was from Kerry but had moved to Dublin. We know very little about their relationship as it stands."

Both birth parents have sadly died, their father in 1993, aged 82 and their mother at the age of 90, in 2017.

The siblings have also learned their mother was 34 when she had David, and 41, when she gave birth to Helen - never marrying or having any more children.

For David and Helen, two people who thought they mystery of their past had been solved in finding each other, the discovery of a third full sibling, marks a dramatic turn of events.

"I couldn't even imagine having a full sibling, but to have two full siblings, unbelievable" said David of the latest twist,

"It's just something that in your wildest dreams you couldn't make the story up."

In next week's program, Helen tells John: "I'm so grateful, I'm so, so grateful that both yourself and David are in my life now, absolutely so grateful."

John, who is filmed traveling to meet his siblings later says: "The DNA test was the best thing I ever did. Today has come and I know exactly who I am. And I have family - another family - and it's great to know your roots."

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