“WE’RE getting through it by helping out one another,” Peggy O’Regan says while sitting at the kitchen table of her Connolly Place home. Peggy’s granddaughter Megan sits across the table from her in the same seat her mother Mary Ryan rested in for four hours on the morning of December 15, the day she went missing. The pair are leaning on each other to keep themselves going through an unimaginably difficult time.
Speaking of the emotional turmoil she battles with every second, Peggy says: “When I go in to Lady Lane with the elderly people they try to make me laugh. And when they do I think ‘oh I’m laughing too much now, they’ll be thinking I’m not worrying’. It never leaves your mind.”
54-year-old Mary, standing at 5’7’’ but looking taller given her straight-up stance, is of slight build with dyed black hair. That morning, she was wearing army style boots, a dark headband, an orange or burgundy polo neck with a short sleeve jacket. “Funky clothes you wouldn’t on anyone else’ Megan adds.
“She used to come up four or five Sundays in a row without fail and then she’d stop,” Peggy says explaining her daughter’s routine. “If she didn’t come up one week you’d know she wouldn’t come the next four weeks. So when she came here that day and didn‘t come the following week I wasn’t expecting to see her until January.”
“It was a Saturday nit a Sunday but she seemed so normal, she didn’t say anything unusual. She had a cup of tea and sat with myself and my friend.”
“I know she had a little bit of depression but we don’t know what sort of medication she was taking for that or anything.”
Given this routine, Peggy thought nothing of Mary’s non-appearance at weekends until a friend called to her home shaking asking her to sit down. Mary’s neighbours in Closegate, she said, were extremely worried they hadn’t seen her since before Christmas, causing the family to finally report the disappearance to the Gardaí.
Mary has always been quiet and likes her own company. Her mother doesn’t believe she would go see friends on the weeks where she wouldn’t visit and, always an independent woman, she never owned a mobile phone, often asking Peggy why she had her phone constantly ringing in the corner of the room.
Megan adds: “She kept to herself, she’s very quiet and wouldn’t really be mixing with people. She didn’t have a bank account or passport.”
The bed in her Closegate home wasn’t being slept in with no toiletries and a small amount of clothes left behind, leading the family to think she took them with her. Her last social welfare payment was received on December 11, four days before her last sighting.
Megan visited Dungarvan and Cork in the hope of randomly spotting her mother in addition to calling homeless shelters around Ireland, although many can’t disclose details about their residents for confidentiality reasons. An addition concern of Peggy is the pressure her granddaughter is putting on herself to try discover Mary’s whereabouts. Thankfully, the people of Waterford and beyond haven’t been short of providing a helping hand.
“Fair play to people for their help so far. Some man said he thought he might have seen her in a chipper and sent me on the CCTV footage. We’ve had thousands of messages and people are really trying to be helpful. A man photo shopped the photo of her to give her darker hair because the picture made public was three years old.”
Peggy remains hopeful that her daughter is out there somewhere and somebody will spot her. As anyone who has unfortunately been in such a situation will tell you, the uncertainty is the most unbearable thing to live with.
“If somebody thinks they see her they could take a photograph and send it on saying ‘is this who you’re looking for, I saw her in such a place’.
“My cousin in Limerick told me about an Irish girl in England who got a boy taking photographs to take one of her. She asked him if he would send it to her mother to tell her she was ok. It went viral. We just want to know she’s safe.”
After her Grandmother credits the Gardaí for their support, Megan adds: “If anybody has any detail no matter how small it could be please get in touch with the Gardaí.
Addressing what she would say to her Mam, she states: “Even just get somebody to ring to tell us you’re alive or ok.”
Anyone who has seen Mary or who can assist in locating her is asked to contact Waterford Garda Station on 051 305300, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.