A renewed appeal has been made on the 40th anniversary of the disappearance of six-year-old Mary Boyle.

Mary Boyle

The Donegal girl disappeared in Cashelard near Ballyshannon on 18 March 1977.

Gardai have released images of clothing similar to that worn by Mary Boyle on the day she went missing. Mary was wearing a lilac coloured cardigan and black wellington boots.

Her twin sister Ann wore identical clothes that day, and those images were shown on RTE Prime Time last night.

Image: RTE Prime Time

Image: RTE Prime Time

Hate Mail

Ann Boyle, the mother of Mary Boyle has revealed how she has received hate mail and even a bogus Christmas card from someone pretending to be her daughter.

Ann Boyle told Prime Time how recent months and years have been hell for her and her family. She described her horror after receiving anonymous hate mail to her home.

“One was a Christmas card and the other was a letter, and the stuff that was in it was shocking. That threatened my life, and frightened the life out of me. One of them started off like it was from Mary. I mean, my God. That made me ill.”

Her granddaughter Mary Duffy, named after her missing aunt, said the hateful mail was very distressing for her grandmother.

“It’s horrible and Nannie’s afraid to be in her own home and no one should be left like that, it’s horrible,” she told Prime Time.

Ann Boyle. Image: RTE

Last Sighting

Ann believes her daughter Mary did make it to a nearby road on the day she vanished.

Mary had followed her uncle Gerry Gallagher when he was delivering a ladder back to a neighbour’s house which was 400 yards away on a hillside.

The last reported sighting of Mary was by her uncle that afternoon as she turned back towards her grandparents home just over halfway on the journey to the neighbour’s house.

Gerry continued on to the neighbour’s home and returned the ladder. Gerry Gallagher, who was the last person to see Mary alive, was not interviewed in the programme.

“I’ve begged to know for 40 years what happened to Mary. I don’t want an inquest that Mary is dead. I want to believe that Mary is still alive somewhere. I have to live that way,” said Ann.

Full Review

Chief Superintendent Walter O’Sullivan of the Serious Crime Review Team said a full review of the case was currently being undertaken which sought to identify every person who was in Cashelard on the day that Mary disappeared.

“Although a rural area, there would have been a number of people in the area, living there, farming, visiting, driving through.

“When a child goes missing it goes right into the heart of a community, it struggles to understand why this has been visited on their community.

“The community has provided information confidentially, anonymously and through making statements. I believe there is further information to be obtained and I am appealing for people to come forward.”


A peaceful march has been organised by the Justice for Mary Boyle campaign group in Dublin on March 20th. It will begin at the Garda Ombudsman’s office at 2pm and protesters will make their way to the Department of Justice. Protestors are planning to bring toys and symbolic purple ribbons to leave at the offices on the day.

Gardai are asking anyone with information on Mary’s disappearance to contact the Incident Room in Ballyshannon at 071 9858530 or the Garda Serious Crime Review Team on 01 6663444.