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Nolan sisters' disappointment in failure to find half sibling born after dad's affair

The sisters were speaking ahead of their new show, The Nolans Go Cruising to be aired on Quest Red

The Nolan Sisters, from left Maureen, Linda, Coleen, Denise and Anne.

Eddie Rowley

Singing sisters The Nolans spoke of their disappointment after failing in their search to find an Irish half sibling born after their father had an affair before the family moved to England.

They also told how they had their hopes dashed after a lady in the UK came forward believing that she could be the one — but a DNA test ruled her out.

The sisters, who grew up in Dublin’s Raheny, have been highlighting their quest to locate their half sibling on The Nolans Go Cruising TV series, and in the Irish and UK media.

“I feel there’s been so much talk about it at this stage that she obviously doesn’t know or she would have got in touch by now,” Linda tells the Sunday World.

“It’s been publicised a lot, so either, God forbid, she’s deceased or she doesn’t know the connection. She could even be in America and hasn’t seen any of this.

“Maybe there are relatives who would know. I would love to meet her if she’s out there. I’d be curious to see what her life was like.”

It wasn’t until 2007 that their mother, Maureen, told the family about their half sibling who would be the same age as 69-year-old Denise.

The Nolan Sisters in their heyday

Maureen told her daughters that she discovered their father Tommy’s affair when she was pregnant, and when she confronted his mistress there was a further shock as she too was pregnant.

“My mum, who was pregnant at the time with our sister, Denise, went to the woman’s house. When she opened up the door she saw that the woman was also pregnant,” Maureen says.

“Mum handled it very well. She absolutely adored our dad. He couldn’t do any wrong in her eyes. She would never have censured him over it because she loved him.

“Mum told me and the rest of the family after our dad died that we had a sister in Ireland. She was very grown up about it. She wanted us to meet her, and she really wanted to meet her as well, which I thought was very big of her.”

In 1962, the Nolan family of four sisters and two brothers moved with their parents from Dublin’s Raheny to Blackpool, where Loose Women panellist Coleen was born.

The five sisters would go on to become pop sensations with a string of hits, including I’m In The Mood For Dancing.

Speaking about the woman who came forward in England, Denise says: “We thought we’d found her when that lovely woman made contact. Coleen and Maureen met her and they said she was so lovely, but they did the DNA and it wasn’t to be. I was really disappointed.

“She was really disappointed as well. She said, ‘It’s not because you’re the Nolan Sisters, but I’ve been searching for such a long time and I finally thought this could be it.’ So she was really saddened by it. I hope she does find whoever it is she’s looking for.”

In their new The Nolans Go Cruising series, Anne and Maureen also tell the bizarre story of spending time in a south Co Dublin hospital, St Gabriel’s in Cabinteely, as children — despite having no apparent ailments.

“Maureen was in there for a year and three months, and I was there for just under two years,” Anne tells me as I chat with the sisters by Zoom.

“Since then there’s been investigations going on saying children were put in there that didn’t need to be there, and even when they did need to be there they were kept in longer than they needed to be.

What was she convalescing from? “Well that’s what I mean, I have no idea. I was told I had suspected rheumatic heart fever, which was never diagnosed. And when I came to England and had a thorough medical examination they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, apart from a slight heart murmur which nearly 90 per cent of the population has. And Maureen had nothing wrong with her. It’s very strange.

“But I wasn’t affected by that experience. I kind of had a nice time, actually. I’m one of these kids that just took everything that was thrown at me. I just accepted things. If adults were telling me, then it must be right.

“I did make a break for freedom when I was in there. I convinced this other girl that we would run away. I had a coat up to my backside and she had a coat down to her ankles and we climbed down a fire escape. We were only 10 years old. We were walking towards Dublin when a policeman stopped us. We were then taken back and put into isolation for a week for being naughty girls.

“But Maureen didn’t enjoy being in there. She felt like she was slightly abused. She was six and wet the bed, and they dragged her out of the bed and smacked her.”

Today, Linda and Anne are both living with cancer and doing well. “Everything is going according to plan,” Linda adds.

The Nolans Go Cruising is on Wednesday at 9pm on Quest Red.

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