Gone, but not forgotten

On March 26 1993, US citizen Annie McCarrick disappeared from her home in Sandymount.  Chief investigators tell Deirdre Cashion why this cold case still haunts them two decades on.

Easter Monday, April 12 1993.  Brian McCarthy pulls up a bar stool at the Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin’s Northside.  He’s just a stone’s throw from the seafront where the locals are enjoying a bright, clear, crisp day along the popular promenade.  But dark clouds far away on the horizon threaten the dazzling warmth of the early afternoon sun.

It’s been a busy week for the 35-year-old private investigator from Dublin but life is good.  The frothy pint, which sits tantalisingly close, is well deserved but as he settles down to take his first, gratifying sip, the phone rings.  It’s the US embassy, a client of his.

A cryptic voice at the other end of the line politely but firmly asks him to make his way to Ballsbridge immediately.  There is no explanation offered and none is given, even when prompted.

He reluctantly leaves his pint and quickly makes his way across the swelling Liffey, questions swirling through his head.  Little does he know that this decision will determine the course of his life for the next four years. Read more

Terror in the night

Research suggests that up to 20 per cent of adults experience some form of sleep disorder, including nightmares. Deirdre Cashion talks to sufferers and discovers how this condition can be managed.

It’s a familiar if not rare experience for many of us – waking with a sudden dart in the dead of night, heart pounding, pulse racing, brainwaves flooded with flashback images and an overwhelming sense of anxiety and confusion permeating our rousing consciousness.

While more common in children, adults can also suffer from persistent nightmares or night terrors from time to time. It’s a condition that can be very debilitating for those, whose sleep is regularly interrupted by spurious things that go bump in the night. Read more

Do we think before we ink?

X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos and boyfriend, Danny Simpson recently underscored their love with a trip to the local tattoo studio.  Closer to home, Deirdre Cashion talks to tattoo fans about their passionate love of body art.

Tattoos are no longer the preserve of the celebrity footballer, pervasive pop princess, criminal overlord or street junkie.  People of all ages and from all walks of life are decorating their bodies, inspired by fashionable trends or by their own artistic creativity and life experience.

Some spend years working towards a full body-suit; a multi-coloured, intricate canvas of narrative art with skulls, serpents, script and a host of religious imagery.  Others opt for a discreetly-placed, subtle symbol of love or loss – a constant, visual reminder of a time of emotional upheaval in their lives. Read more

Motherhood or Motherland?

Are women forced to choose between family life and public life?  Both can co-exist four female TDs tell Deirdre Cashion but it’s hardly child’s play.

A dramatic shift in the traditional role of women in Irish society is well underway and there are encouraging signs that our Constitution is about to catch up.

At the most recent plenary session of the Constitutional Convention, a body tasked with considering certain topics as possible future constitutional amendments, 88 per cent of delegates voted to change Article 41.2, which singles out for special mention, the role of women in the home.

Delegates also heard submissions on the broader question of female participation in public life – its universal relevance reflected by the popularity of the recent Danish political drama, ‘Borgen’, which revealed the spectacular failure of Prime Minister, Birgitte Nyborg to successfully juggle her family life with the affairs of state.

‘Borgen’ might be fiction but fiction has become reality for the Danes with the election of their first female Premier, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.  It’s difficult to envisage a similar development in Dáil Eireann any time soon, where just 15 per cent are women.

‘Weekend’ spoke to our young female TDs about motherhood, the challenges of public life, gender quotas and the prospect of a female Taoiseach ever taking leaders’ questions in the Dáil. Read more