Mystery over father’s 50-year disappearance solved after news article

A man whose father abandoned his Irish family almost 50 years ago and vanished without trace believes the mystery over his fate has been solved thanks to a newspaper article four months ago.

John Richards Jr (74) said he was tormented by what became of his father who abandoned his family twice – the second time in 1974 – and had no further contact with his wife and children left behind in Cork.

John, with his wife Mary ‘Nell’ Richards, has battled ill-health over recent times, but said he was determined to fulfil a decades-old ambition to discover what happened to his father… and lay to rest suspicions his father had a second family.

An article published in the Irish Independent last February sparked a search that is believed to have traced his vanished father and the second family that John always suspected he had.

Nell said the newspaper article was followed up on by an RTÉ Radio One team as part of a documentary.

A genealogist was consulted and expert research from birth and death records found evidence that John’s father died in Surrey in England in 2009.

Records indicate he not only had a wife in England but also five children. It is believed his Surrey-based widow is still alive.

“John apparently has three half-brothers and two half-sisters living in the UK,” Nell said.

“I think he always suspected his father had a second family in the UK, but knowing he has half-brothers and sisters there is unbelievable.

“It is incredible what that one article started. We thought we would never find out what happened to him [John Sr].”

What shocked the Cork family is that John’s father apparently lived until the age of 87 and lived for 35 years in the UK without attempting to make contact with his Irish children.

John Joseph Alfred Richards abandoned his Cork family not once, but twice. When he left a second time in 1974 from their Fermoy, Co Cork home he broke his wife Sheila’s heart.

“Sometime around 1952 my father went to the UK for work,” John Jr explained. “He was supposed to send money back to his family in Cork, but we never heard a word from him for almost 20 years.”

Just weeks before John’s planned wedding to Nell in October 1973, his father sent a letter to his wife, Sheila, asking if he could return home.

“My brother Donal and I were both adults in our 20s at this stage,” John said.

“We were leaving home so I had no problem with my father returning home if it made my mother happy.”

His father duly arrived at the family’s home at Connolly Street in Fermoy and attended John Jr’s wedding to Nell.

The only photographs John Jr now has of his father are those from that Fermoy wedding. He often looks at the wedding photographs and notes how delighted his mother appears to be.

“My mother was a different woman when he arrived home. She was smiling, she was happy and she was clearly delighted to have him home.”

All seemed well for about a year. John Jr’s father was a talented tradesman and was never short of work in the carpentry, plumbing and brick-laying sectors.

For his own part, John Jr got a job in Cork and was arriving back in Fermoy from work in December 1974 when he saw his father walking up the town with a suitcase.

“That was the last we ever saw or heard from him,” he said. “That is almost 50 years ago and we never even heard a word to say that he had passed away which, at this stage, I presume he must have.”

In the weeks before his father left the family for a second time, a letter arrived addressed to him from the UK.

Unbeknownst to his father, John Jr and his brother Donal opened the letter.

It was from a woman in the UK who said that if John Sr didn’t return to the UK immediately his seven-year-old daughter would be put on a ferry to travel alone to his ­Fermoy address.

“That little girl must be around 55 years old now,” said John Jr.

“I can only assume that my father may also have had other children in the UK.

“At this stage in my life, I would love to get to meet them, and find out what actually happened to my father.”

John Sr had met Sheila when he was a member of the Defence Forces stationed at Fermoy’s Fitzgerald Camp.

John discovered that his father – named John Joseph Alfred Richards – was born in Wales on April 22, 1922. The family may have had mining connections in Wales.

Relatives in the UK had a strong connection to the military and are believed to have served both in Palestine and during the Suez campaign.

However, John Alfred was raised by a Mary Byrne at Avon Cottage in Rathdrum, Co Wicklow.

Why the young boy grew up in Wicklow is a mystery, but it is believed there was some familial connection between Mary Byrne and the Wales-based Richards family.

John Sr joined the Defence Forces as a private on September 25 1946. He was compassionately discharged on March 17 1948, one month after marrying Sheila in Fermoy.​

John Jr said that after his father departed for a second time in December 1974, his mother Sheila never spoke about him again. ​She was diagnosed with cancer and died aged 59 in July 1983.

His father, to the best of his knowledge, never made contact with his mother or his Irish family after 1974.

“She never spoke about it to us, but she was heartbroken,” John Jr said of his mother.

“I can forgive my father for leaving our family for the first time. But not for a second time. I think it was the ‘not knowing’ that was the hardest.

“We never heard a word from him after December 1974.

“My brother Donal passed away last year, so, really I would just like to know what happened to my father. It would also be nice to meet up with any half-sisters and half-brothers I might have in the UK.”

Nell said direct contact between the families has not yet been made. But it is hoped a future meeting can be arranged

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan’s exclusive take on the day’s news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

News Related


Lego ditches plan to make bricks out of recycled bottles as it 'wouldn't reduce emissions'

Lego ditches plan to make bricks out of recycled bottles as it ‘wouldn’t reduce emissions’ LEGO HAS DITCHED plans to make bricks out of recycled drinks bottles after finding the ... Read more »

Woman wins £1.74m on scratchcard then returns with gift for shopkeeper who sold it to her

Cinzia Imperiale said a customer won €2million with a €20 scratchcard A lucky woman won a huge €2million (£1.74million) prize on a scratchcard – and after discovering the win, she ... Read more »

Chiedozie Ogbene ‘100 per cent happy’ with full Premier League debut for Luton

Ireland forward Chiedozie Ogbene says he hopes he used the opportunity of his first Premier League start to prove his worth to Luton Town. After four substitute appearances in his ... Read more »

PICS: Celebs enjoy pawfect family day out at premiere of Paw Patrol movie

Irish celebrities took a little time out this weekend to spend quality time with their children at the premiere of Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie and it looks like both ... Read more »

Kinahan gang boss Liam Byrne claims he will suffer ‘inhumane’ treatment in UK jails

Kinahan gangster Liam Byrne says his extradition to the UK should be rejected because he risks “inhumane and degrading treatment” in a British prison. The extraordinary claim is one of ... Read more »

'Scorchio in Malaga' Nuala Carey jets off for a well-earned holiday

RTÉ weather reporter Nuala Carey was very happy with the forecast as she jetted off to Spain. The National Lottery presenter has flown to Malaga for a holiday after a ... Read more »

Keith Duffy explores Ireland’s changing relationship with teeth in documentary

Boyzone star Keith Duffy said exploring the history of dentistry in Ireland for a new documentary was both “shocking and scary”. The Dublin-born singer, 48, sets out to understand Ireland’s ... Read more »

BBC Breakfast viewers saddened as popular host announces surprise departure

BBC Breakfast viewers were saddened as a popular host on the morning show announced his departure. Ben Thompson has been filling in for regular host Charlie Stayt recently, as the ... Read more »

Nissan Concept 20-23 Envisions Electric Hot Hatch For The Track

Nissan Concept 20-23 exterior An “exterior model only,” the concept was designed by Nissan Design Europe to mark the studio’s 20th anniversary in London. Nissan has unveiled a new all-electric ... Read more »

Lone sailor is rescued in Wicklow after sailing yacht suffers mechanical and electrical issues

The Wicklow RNLI all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams was launched in the early hours of Sunday morning after reports of a yacht suffering mechanical and electrical issues. The ... Read more »

Wicklow’s Mermaid Arts Centre celebrates 21 years of success with jam packed weekend of events

Mermaid Arts Centre celebrated its 21st birthday weekend in style as the venue played host to a vibrant and eclectic line-up of free events from Thursday September 21 to Sunday ... Read more »

Ukraine makes ‘tactical breakthrough’ after breaching Russian defences

Ukrainian soldier checks a loaded exploding drone which is deployed to destroy Russia’s heavy machinery, armored vehicles and infantry – AP Photo/Bram Janssen Ukrainian forces have achieved a “tactical breakthrough” ... Read more »

Teen spared sentence for mum extortion attempt of €2,500, court hears

A DUBLIN youth has been spared a custodial sentence after admitting he attempted to extort €2,500 from his mother. The boy, 17, who cannot be named because he is a ... Read more »

Around the NFL: Taylor Swift watches Chiefs win in style as Miami hands record beating to Broncos

Week 3 delivered shocks, drama and awful Taylor Swift puns – but for good reason. Here is what’s happening around the NFL. Justin Fields is Chicago’s Anti-Hero It’s a bad ... Read more »

Playing with freedom is where the rewards are: Dunloy dual ace Nigel Elliott

Dunloy’s Nigel Elliot celebrates scoring a point seconds away from the end of their semi-final with Portglenone last Friday night Picture: Mark Marlow NIGEL Elliott insists the Dunloy footballers will ... Read more »

Denise O’Sullivan and Louise Quinn passed fit for Ireland’s Nations League clash with Hungary

Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan with Flash, a chameleon, at Zoo Café in Budapest, Hungary, during some down time ahead of their UEFA Women’s Nations League B1 match against Hungary, on Tuesday. ... Read more »

European Union Agrees On Watered-Down Euro 7 Regulations

traffic cars smoke There will be stricter emissions standards for trucks and buses but not for cars and vans. Several automakers, including Stellantis, Volkswagen, Skoda, and others, have been very ... Read more »

Wexford boy enjoys magic of the red carpet at the ‘LauraLynn Oscars’

Tristan James Sheil (TJ) from Oylegate, Co. Wexford and his family’s film ‘The Mystery of the Missing Magic’ won the best mystery movie award this year at the ‘LauraLynn Oscars’. ... Read more »

Carjacker kills woman by zip-tying her throat - before leaving eerie note

A carjacker killed a woman by zip-tying her throat – before leaving behind an eerie note apologising for the horrific killing. Suspect Reese Miller, 24, was caught driving a blue ... Read more »

Susanna Reid replaced on GMB again as she continues to struggle after the NTAs

Susanna Reid has apologised to her followers as she revealed that she would not be presenting Good Morning Britain again on Monday as she continues to recover from an illness. ... Read more »

Meghan Markle's unprecedented pre-royal interview 'left Palace furious'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have always done things their way when it comes to their relationship, ripping up the royal rule book at every twist and turn. While many ... Read more »

Thousands of local authority workers begin industrial action today

FÓRSA TRADE UNION members working in local authorities are beginning industrial action today. The union, which represents over 12,000 local authority workers, said that the decision to take action comes ... Read more »

Mother-of-one (48) is jailed for 506th conviction after stealing handbag from coffee shop

A serial thief with 505 prior convictions who stole from a woman’s handbag in a coffee shop has been jailed for four months. Mother-of-one Catherine Lambert (48) clocked up her ... Read more »

Tony Ward: If Johnny Sexton stays in this form and injury-free, Ireland will give World Cup one hell of a rattle

Johnny Sexton holds his hand after picking up a knock when scoring his first-half try Think back to those schooldays, to that dreaded final public exam, and this in a ... Read more »

Postcard from the TGV: An odyssey of a World Cup weekend

THE SUN IS rising to the right of the train as we speed past Lyon and on towards Paris. Another lovely day is upon France although, mercifully, it’s set to ... Read more »

Kingspan said to make rebuffed proposal for tie-up with Carlisle

Kingspan Group Plc made an informal approach to combine with American firm Carlisle Cos., which rebuffed the move to build a global building materials giant, people familiar with the matter ... Read more »

Americans look back on 9/11 and remember the victims on 22nd anniversary

A man leans on parapet surrounding the South reflecting pool of World Trade Center 9 11 Memorial. AMERICANS ARE LOOKING back on the horror and legacy of September 11, gathering ... Read more »

Ukraine LIVE: Russia to send ‘thousands of zombies' to fight in Putin's war of ‘madness'

Putin is increasing its professional soldier pool, according to the British MoD Russia intends to recruit more than a hundred thousand professional recruits and prisoners to “avoid further unpopular mobilisations”, ... Read more »

NFL Fans Are Praying For Family Of Legendary Giants Star

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – DECEMBER 14: Quarterback Phil Simms #11 of the New York Giants huddles with the offense, including wide receiver Stacy Robinson #81 and tight end Mark Bavaro ... Read more »

Jimmy Nesbitt reveals Late Late Show date with Patrick Kielty as he tips Irish rugby team for World Cup success

Jimmy Nesbitt has revealed he will appear on the Late Late Show this month — with the actor currently in Northern Ireland training for a gruelling endurance challenge in aid ... Read more »
Kênh kiến thức kỹ năng, phát triển bản thân, hướng nghiệp, blog nhân sự