Into the Unknown: Ireland's Vanishing Triangle Part One

I'm back! I needed something to do while self-isolating, and what's better to kill time and still be useful than research? Nothing, that's what. Anyway. Let's get into the case.

Ireland has, in the last thirty years, become a go-to destination for weddings, honeymoons, and other vacations, and is home to just shy of 5 million people. The land, which has been inhabited since Neolithic times, has a long and storied history. With a lower crime rate, it's generally seen as a safe country to visit. But with the light, we must take the dark, and with the safety, we must accept the danger. In the 1990s, as many as eight women disappeared from a large area around Dublin, Ireland, and were never seen or heard from again.

In the first part of this two-part post, we'll first cover the profiles of the missing. Next week, we'll talk about the investigations that followed. There is a lot to unpack in these cases, so strap in and let's go.

Some of the content in this post may disturb or upset sensitive readers.

I do not post graphic pictures, but websites found by following links in this post may. Reader discretion is advised.

THE HISTORY: Ireland is a beautiful land, full of folklore and magic. It has been at times a war-torn island nation, having been the site of early interactions with Vikings, conflicts with England that go back hundreds of years, all the way to the Troubles that ran from the 1960s nearly to the dawning of the new millennium.

If you look on a map of Ireland, you'll find two nations that share the name. The larger of the two is the Republic of Ireland, which takes up about 80% of the Irish island. The other 20% belongs to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. This separation, or The Partition of Ireland, happened on May 3rd of 1921, when the Republic declared its independence and separation from English rule. This all happened after a guerrilla war of independence fought between the Irish Republican Army (a nationalist terrorist organization, not the nation's actual military) and the British Army, after which the two countries called a truce. 

Alongside the nation's cultural and historical significance, Ireland is a nation well-known for its alcohol culture. Irish people have been brewing alcohol at least as early as the Bronze Age, and whisky and beer are popular beverages both in and imported from the country even today, with Guinness being one of the most successful brands of beer in the world.

While considered a very safe country both for residents and visitors, as well as it's low crime rate in comparison with other developed countries, it is not a country devoid of criminal activity. Muggings, pickpocketings, and sexually motivated crimes (particularly in the capital city of Dublin) are among the most commonly reported in the country, and many of these are related to the consumption of alcohol.

The 'Vanishing Triangle' is a term coined in the 1990s, and it describes an area of the Republic of Ireland surrounding the capital city of Dublin. The borders of the Triangle align roughly with the province of Leinster, which contains 12 counties. Leinster is a large province, comprising over 7,500 square miles, and is the most populated, home to over 2.5 million people, half the population of the entire country.

THE MISSING: The profiles of these missing women are presented in the order in which they disappeared.

Annie Bridget McCarrick: Born on March 27, 1966 to police officer John and his wife Nancy McCarrick on Long Island, New York, Annie was an only child. She was last seen on March 26, 1993. Annie moved to Dublin in 1987 and studied first at St. Patrick's Training College, then at St. Patrick's College. She returned to New York for a few years to obtain a master's degree, then returned to the Dublin area in 1993 to relocate permanently. She lived with roommates in Dublin at the time of her disappearance, and worked at a restaurant with hopes of teaching in the future. She left her apartment in Sandymount, Dublin on March 26, 1993, with plans to visit the Wicklow mountains. She was seen withdrawing money from her account at Allied Irish Bank in Sandymount, then she grocery shopped before she returned to her apartment at 3 p.m. At 3:40 p.m., she took a bus in Ranelagh, which took her to Enniskerry, roughly 20 miles from Sandymount. Later that evening, between 9 and 10 p.m. a woman believed to be Annie was seen talking to a man who has never been identified. He was in his twenties and wearing a waxed jacket. The woman wanted to attend the Hooley Show, which is a nightly dinner show celebrating traditional Irish music and dance at Johnnie Fox's pub in Glencullen. This woman hadn't realized there would be a cover charge. The man she was with paid her way at the door, and for the rest of the evening as well. The woman left the bar alone in the early morning hours of March 27 (which was Annie's 27th birthday) and has never been seen again. This sighting of Annie is believable, as she had been to Johnnie Fox's before, but not certain. The last confirmed sighting of her was on the bus to Enniskerry on the 26th. Annie would be 54 years old at the time of this writing if she is still alive. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5'8" tall, 140 pounds, with brown hair and light eyes (they look blue in photos but I can't find confirmation of their color). Some sources state she spoke with a strong American accent, but the official website of the Irish police, the An Garda Siochana (or Garda), says she spoke with a soft Irish-American accent. Her father John has since passed away but her mother Nancy is still active in Irish and American media searching for her daughter.

Eva Brennan: Eva was 39-40 years old when she vanished on July 25, 1993. She had just left her parents' home in Rathgar, and was never seen or heard from again. Her father went to check on her two days after their visit because he hadn't heard from her since, and found her apartment empty. He went to the Horse and Hound Pub, which the family owned, and asked a bartender to help him get in. The two men broke a window to make their way inside. Eva's jacket was there, indication she had made it home after leaving her parents' house on the 25th, but she was nowhere to be found. Eva had short brown hair and blue eyes, and was 5'7" tall with a slim build. She looked younger than her age, which has been reported in some sources as 39 and some as 40. She would be 66 or 67 at the time of this writing, if she is alive today. She rarely left home except for her daily lunches with her parents, and she was depressed at the time of her disappearance. 

Imelda Keenan: Imelda was just 22 years old when she disappeared on March 1, 1995. Originally from Mountmerrick, County Laois, she was last seen walking in Waterford, where she was studying computers at Central Technical Institute. She was engaged to be married, and was happy with her life. She was last seen wearing leopard-print leggings and a denim jacket, and left her apartment to collect an assistance check from the post office. The post office was closed when she arrived, so she walked down a different street, William Street, to Lombard. Two people, including a friend, saw her crossing Lombard Street and walking toward the Tower Hotel. After that, she's never been seen again. Imelda was 5'3" tall with a thin build, brown hair and blue eyes. She would be 46 years old if she is still alive today. Since her disappearance, nine of her family members have passed away after years of hard campaigning to find her. Her brother Gerard is still alive and actively searching for his sister.

Josephine 'JoJo' Dullard: 21-year old JoJo went missing on September 11, 1995 at 11:30 p.m. She called a friend from a phone booth in Moone in County Kildare. After dropping out of beauty school, she was in the process of moving back home. After missing her bus to Callan, County Kilkenny, she had decided to hitchhike the rest of the way. After the call she placed at the phone booth in Moone, she was never officially seen or heard from again. She may have been spotted later leaning into the back window of a dark red Toyota Carina or similar car. Five miles away, in Castledermot, a woman of the same description was seen the same night as well. After these sightings, though, JoJo has never been seen again. JoJo was 5'4" tall, of medium build, with brown hair and blue eyes. She would be 46 if she is still alive today.

Fiona Pender: Born July 1971, Fiona was 25 when she went missing from Tullamore, County Offaly on August 23, 1996. She was last seen at her apartment on Church Street in Tullamore. Fiona was seven months pregnant at the time and had spent the previous day shopping for her baby. She was a part-time model prior to her pregnancy and worked as a hairdresser as well. Her younger brother John was only fifteen at the time she was last seen, and said she wasn't in a good place back then. Their brother Mark had passed away the year before in a motorcycle accident, and she was struggling with the loss, as well as the impending pressure of becoming a mother. Witnesses said they saw two men carrying a rolled-up carpet out of her apartment building around the time of her disappearance. The men placed the carpet in the trunk of a car and left with it. There is a suspect in Fiona's case, a man arrested in Canada in connection to other crimes, and this arrest heated up Fiona's case in Ireland. There is little information about this man and why or how he may be connected to Fiona's disappearance available online. The Gardai generally don't see her disappearance as being connected to the others on this list. Searches have been conducted for her remains based on tips from witnesses, but she hasn't been found. In 2008, a wooden cross bearing her name was found near the Slieve Bloom Mountains, between the towns of Laois and Offaly, leading police to search the area for her in the belief she might be buried there. Fiona was 5'5" tall with long wavy/curly possibly bleached-blonde hair. Her eyes look dark in photographs. She would be 49 at the time of this writing if still alive, and her baby would now be 23. In 2000, her father Sean committed suicide, unable to cope with the losses of his children and unborn grandchild. Her mother Josephine passed away as well from cancer in 2017. 

Ciara Breen: Born March 31, 1979, 17-year-old Ciara has been missing since February 13, 1997. She was from Dundalk, County Louth, and was last seen at home by her mother, Bernadette. The two women went to bed around midnight and when Bernadette awoke to use the bathroom in the night, she discovered her only child missing from the house. Ciara was wearing a wine colored sweatshirt over a white t-shirt with a girl surrounded by lifeguards and Ciara's own face on the shirt. She was also wearing a black leather jacket and dark blue jeans. A window in the house was left unlocked so she could leave by it and still get back in when she wanted to return. One report claimed she left the house to meet someone, which may come from later eyewitness reports. It's possible she left this way, but she's never returned. In 2014, two people came forward with credible sightings of her on the night she vanished. The chief suspect in the case, Liam Mullen, was arrested twice and interviewed several times, but died in 2017 of a suspected overdose while in police custody. He was seen several times on the night she disappeared with Ciara, and made statements to people over the years since that she was in a bog in Dundalk. Ciara was 5'4" tall with a slim build, dark brown/black hair and blue eyes. Ciara would be 41 at the time of this writing if she's still alive. Her mother passed away in 2018.

Fiona Sinnott: 19 years old, from Rossdare, County Wexford. Went missing February 8, 1998 from after leaving Butler's Pub in Broadway with her ex-boyfriend, Sean Carroll, with whom she shared an 11-month-old daughter. Sean claimed he walked to her rented apartment in Ballyhit and slept on her couch. Sean claimed Fiona had complained of pains in her arm and upper body that night and went straight to bed after they returned. He checked on her the next morning, at around 9 a.m. February 9th, and found her awake. She told him she was still in pain and wanted to go to the doctor. His mother was waiting outside to pick him up, and he gave Fiona £3, then left. The couple's daughter, Emma, was staying at the Carroll home and Sean and his mother returned there. Fiona was never seen again. She didn't visit any doctor in the area that day, and wasn't seen hitching a ride, either, which was the only method of transport she would have had to get to a doctor's office. The last known sighting of her by anyone but Sean Carroll was when she walked out of Butler's Pub just after closing time on February 8th, 1998. Fiona's father, Pat, reported her missing after time passed and she didn't contact family. Fiona was 5'2" tall, under 100 pounds, with long auburn hair and brown eyes. She would be 41 years old at the time of this writing if she's still alive. 

Deirdre Jacob: Born April 10, 1979, Deirdre went missing on July 28, 1998 from her hometown of Newbridge, County Kildare. She was living at the time in London while she studied at St. Mary's University but was home for the summer. This is probably the most baffling case of all profiled in this post, as she simply vanished just yards from her family home. Witnesses saw her nearly at the end of her driveway, but she never made it to the house and has never been seen since. 

Since Deirdre Jacob's disappearance in July 1998, no other women have gone missing that fit the pattern these women's vanishings do. They all looked similar, being of average height and slim build, all with dark hair besides Fiona Pender, and every one of them dropping out of sight with no clues as to why or where they've gone since. These cases baffle Irish police and the public alike to this day, and while there are clues in some, none have been solved.

Stay Tuned! In two weeks, we'll discuss the investigations into these women's disappearances.

If you have any information about the disappearances of ANNIE McCARRICK, EVA BRENNAN, IMELDA KEENAN, JOSEPHINE "JoJo" DULLARD, FIONA PENDER, CIARA BREEN, FIONA SINNOTT, OR DEIRDRE JACOB, please contact the An Gardai Siochana's Crimestoppers in Ireland, dial 011 (US exit code) 353 (Ireland's country code), then 1800-205805.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you know of any mysterious cases you'd like to see me profile, comment on this post or send me a message on my Contact page and I’ll investigate.


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