Woman longs to reconnect with long-lost Dublin family

by Sylvia Pownall
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A woman desperate to trace her Dublin-born mother’s relatives has told how she longs to be reunited with her long-lost family.

Rita Vincent, who lives in Devon, England, has spent years trawling records in a bid to track down her mum Carmel Gray’s family in the capital’s north inner city.

The 66-year-old and her sister-in-law, Debbie, flew to Dublin on their search – but they have been unable to connect with their aunts and uncles, who hail from the Docklands area.

Carmel married Douglas Bruce and settled in Bideford in Devon, but she died of a broken heart in 1963 after her five-year-old son was killed on his tricycle, and her other kids were taken into care.

Rita told Dublin Gazette: “We’ve managed to trace mum’s family back to north inner city Dublin.

“I think her parents were married in St Agatha’s cChurch in North William Street.

“Two of her brothers came over for her funeral but we didn’t see them after that. We don’t know for sure, but our father could have had something to do with that.”

Rita’s brother, Andy, married Debbie in 1984 and they have two children and two grandchildren.

Debbie said: “My son Shane asked about his dad’s mum and dad, and that’s how it started.”

Carmel’s son, Donald, was just five when his tricycle went under the wheel of a lorry in August 1963.

Just two months later, at the age of 30, Carmel was found dead in bed and the coroner recorded a verdict of “accidental death”.

Rita said: “She died of a broken heart, basically. Dad put us into care then, and that was tough.

“But he remarried a few years later and took us in again. He was a very aggressive man; he didn’t treat us well.

“I was nine and the eldest when mum passed away. I felt I had to take care of my brothers, and protect them from our brutal father.

“I’m 66 now and I’ve been trying to trace mum’s family for years. We have a lot of questions as to why they didn’t keep in touch.

“I know they were a very close family. I just couldn’t understand why they couldn’t take us in, but maybe they didn’t know [about our situation].

“It’s been haunting me for years – the way mum died, the way we were put into a children’s home.

“Knowing we have got relatives that we don’t know anything about or where they are is hard to bear,” she said.

Anyone with information can contact Debbie via email at [email protected].

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