Englishman hoping to find Joan after an unforgettable time in 1977

by Padraig Conlon
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An Englishman who last set foot in Dublin 42 years ago is looking for Dublin Gazette readers’ help.

Now living in Kent, Mike Billington contacted us with a special request.

“I’ve contacted you because I’m hoping you can help me,” he cryptically said in a phone call to our office this week.

“The last time I was in Dublin was Saturday, April 2, 1977. I was in my late 20s and working as a pilot; we flew into Dublin from Biggin Hill.

“That night we went to a nightclub in the city centre. It was called Slack Alices; it was located opposite the Ha’penny Bridge – I think it’s long gone.

“While there I had one of those ‘eyes across the room’ moments with this really nice girl.

“Her name was Joan – she was a schoolteacher, and she just looked so serene and calm, there was a serenity about her.”

Mike did more than shyly staring back at the pretty lady: “We started dancing and immediately clicked. We had a wonderful night and arranged to meet the next day.

“I was staying at the airport so I walked all the way back there from O’Connell St that night.

“The next day I returned to meet Joan in the afternoon; we went to the cinema. We had a lovely time together, we felt very close to each other.”

However, with the difficulties of the time, things weren’t completely perfect: “She was a Catholic and I wasn’t, so maybe she thought this might be a problem.

“After that she got on a bus outside the cinema. She immediately went to the back of the bus, so I walked around to the back of the bus on the street.

“This moment is indelibly printed in my memory and has haunted me for the past 42 years.

“As the bus moved away she burst into tears. I felt just as upset, knowing we would never see each other again.

“After that, I flew back to England, never returned to Dublin, and never saw Joan again.”

Mike, who went on to get married, have two children and become a grandfather, contacted us because he would love to make contact with Joan.

He explained: “I just want to know that life treated her good and she’s okay. I am not looking to rekindle an old flame or anything like that; my wife knows all about this.

“If Joan is married, her husband need not be worried – I’m 75, short, bald, fat and no threat to anybody!

“I have been thinking about her often down the years; this is more of a harmless thing.”

In fact, Mike revealed a personal moment which made him decide to see if he could have some peace of mind about Joan: “I recently had my second bout of cancer and that made me realise I have more life behind me than in front of me.

“If Joan was interested, I’d love to meet up. I would bring my wife and if she was married her husband would be more than welcome.

“I’m planning on visiting Dublin in June. I’m hoping some of your readers may be able to help me.”

So, if you happen to be Joan, were once a schoolteacher and had a wonderful time in April, 1977 with a charming visitor called Mike, get in touch with Dublin Gazette today, to let Mike know!

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