The discovery of a body that is thought to be a Tipperary man who has been missing for nearly two years could finally give answers to his grieving family - even though they are heartbroken they will never see him again.
Bobby Ryan, from Tipperary town, was last seen on the June bank holiday weekend in 2011. He was reported missing and no trace of the well-liked father and grandfather was found until last Tuesday, when remains that are thought to be his were discovered in a disused storage pit at a farm in Fawngown, on the Bansha to Tipperary Town road.
However the week since has been a difficult one for his heartbroken family, as they wait for the phone call to confirm that the remains are indeed Bobby’s.
Speaking to The Nationalist, this week, Bobby’s brother John said: “It’s been a hard week waiting for a positive ID. If they can’t ID Bobby in Dublin then he will have to go to the UK for DNA tests, that could take up to six weeks. But we’re hopeful every day the phone might ring before 8pm (when the lab closes).”
Bobby was one of the first family members near the scene at the Fawngown farm, last Tuesday, after the discovery was made. A friend phoned to say the land had been sealed off by gardai and he was on his way there when his niece rang to say the gardai had contacted the family, to tell them remains had been found.
He says that a positive identification of his brother will “take some of the pain” out of their loss because “we can finally lay him to rest. It’s been a long two years.”
But amidst the family’s pain John says they know they are fortunate to have found Bobby. “I wouldn’t want him back this way but as bad as things are we are the lucky ones, we got him. There are people who never get their loved ones back. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
John says that even though the Ryan family expected this outcome from the day Bobby disappeared they still held out hope. “We knew from day one that Bobby was dead. Bobby wouldn’t do this to us. But there was always a glimmer in the back of our minds that Bobby might turn up. Bobby was a home bird, he loved his lads and his three (at the time) grandchildren.”
Although they were braced for bad news in a phone call for the last two years, John says that last Tuesday’s calls came as “a wicked shock.” They were even more shocked that Bobby’s remains had been so close all the time. “All the searching we did was so close but we couldn’t pick him up.” He said the farmland where the remains were found was the only place the Ryan family hadn’t personally searched.
Bobby’s adult children, daughter Michelle and son Robert, have experienced mixed emotions this week. While they are happy they “got their father back” John says that like him they always held on to a sliver of hope he would be found alive and well.
After two years of searching for Bobby, John says the Ryan family would like to thank everyone who helped. “People who didn’t know us, friends of Bobby, people we didn’t know brought sandwiches. People have been so good to us over the last two years, complete strangers. The gardai was very good too. The Ryan family could never thank them enough”.
A murder investigation into the death was launched last week, following a post mortem examination, and an incident room has been set up at Tipperary Town Garda Station.
The murder investigation is still at an early stage. Garda forensic specialists descended on the farmland following the discovery in the search for clues to what might have happened to Mr Ryan.
The search for Bobby Ryan, who was 52 when he went missing, has been spearheaded by his family since the popular DJ went missing, on June 3, 2011. That morning he left the farm at Fawnagown, but failed to turn up for work at Killough Quarry, near Thurles.
The gruesome discovery of human remains was made last Tuesday, April 30, by a local dairy farmer who keeps a dairy herd on the land. The farmland is owned by Bobby’s partner, Mary Lowry, and it was from here that he left early on the morning he disappeared. Bobby worked as a driver but was also well-known as DJ “Mr Moonlight.” He lived in Boherlahan, about five kilometres from Cashel.
Over the last two years extensive searches were carried out in the general area where the remains were eventually found, as his Citroen van was discovered on the day he disappeared at nearby Bansha Woods, by his daughter. Hundreds of local people took part in the searches, as well as specialised search crews, and his family had made several appeals for information.