Family hopes to find uncle

Shelley Marsden

RELATIVES of Mayo man Michael Walsh, who is believed to have emigrated to Britain at some point after 1968, are asking for readers’ help to trace him.

Michael will be 65 years old on December 27 of this year, and his nephew Jason Walsh-McLean, who has been doing some research on his family tree, has said it would be “the greatest Christmas for all of us if we could make contact with him. It would be absolutely brilliant. ”

Christened Michael Stephen Thomas, he was the second-born of four siblings and his three sisters were Pauline, Catherine and Ann. They were born to John and Mary Walsh, nee Brannigan, of Derrindafferg, a tiny village which even today is made up of only ten or so households.

Unfortunately, John and Mary died while the children were all under sixteen. After their mother’s death, Pauline and Michael were sent to live with relatives and the two younger children to an orphanage.  They stayed in contact with their father, but a couple of years later he also died and, according to nephew Jason, “the family scattered around like that just lost contact.”

Michael , who his nephew describes as a “well-built, easy-going fellah who always had a newspaper under his arm and Caroll’s cigarettes in his back pocket”  lived and worked on McCarthy’s farm in Ballintubber, County Mayo, before leaving for England. His sister Pauline went to Scotland, and his other sisters Catherine and Ann both went to live in Dublin.

Catherine, 63, who used to work as a domestic for former Taoiseach, the late Garret FitzGerald, was supposedly the last relative to have spoken to Michael back in 1966, when he told his sister about his plans to emigrate to England.

Jason told us: “This was before the internet, all of this. It wasn’t so easy to stay in touch. It was nobody’s fault, but the siblings just drifted apart and then discovered it was impossible to get in touch with Michael again. It’s always been a bit of an open wound for Catherine and the family. They just didn’t know where to start looking for their big brother. Finding Michael would fill a gap that’s Catherine has wanted to close for a long, long time.”

A month ago, Jason brought Catherine back to the old family home in Mayo for the first time in fifty years. He said: “She’s a tough lady and doesn’t betray her emotions very easily, but she went very quiet. I knew she was emotional thinking about her parents, and Michael.”

Two years ago, the family contacted the Salvation Army to see if it could help locate Michael, but without a last known address in England, were unsuccessful.



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