Ice cream cones in the afternoon and innocent giggles at the seaside

14 May 2007
Evening Herald
Alan O’Keeffe
. . . photos from Madeleine’s Irish holiday before the abduction nightmare

This is the way the family and friends of abducted Madeline McCann remember the fun-loving little girl. The holiday photographs were taken on a family trip to Ireland and evoke the innocence and carefree fun of childhood. Madeline and her family spent a holiday in Co Donegal recently and visited a number of seaside areas.

She played with her younger twin brother and sister Sean and Amelie and their young cousins Fiona and Gregor McCann. They enjoyed ice-cream cones in the afternoon sunshine as they played in the idyllic seaside location. The children were happy to pose for family snapshots as the family toured the Donegal area.

Parents Gerry and Kate took the children over to Ireland on holiday for a week at Easter time. Gerry, a cardiologist, and Kate, a family doctor, both enjoyed a relaxing week with the children away from their busy lives in Leicestershire.

They spent some of their holiday around the village of St Johnston in East Donegal and stayed for a number of nights in West Donegal.

The family and the missing child’s great uncle Hughie and grandmother Ellen McCann enjoyed several days exploring The Rosses area of the county.

They stayed with their children in a Bed and Breakfast run by a family in the Dungloe area.

Madeleine’s grandmother Ellen was delighted to be back in her native Donegal. She was born in the Crolly area there and was Ellen Ferry before her marriage.

Ellen took the family to some of her favourite places in the region during the holiday break.

Ellen married Johnny McCann, who ran a pub with his brother Hughie in the village of St Johnston. Ellen and Johnny emigrated to Scotland in the 1960s.

Local publican Joe Peoples, who owns the old McCann pub in the village, said the family were regular visitors to the area although they no longer had close relatives in Donegal.

The family enjoyed visiting the old pub. The children played with each other in the pub as the adults chatted with the owners and local people during the visit.

The McCann’s had decided to pop into the pub on their way back to Belfast Airport to catch a flight home to England.

Madeleine is remembered in the village as “a wee dote” who happily played with her siblings and cousins.Joe Peoples said she was “a lovely wee girl.”

The McCann family were remembered for being proud of their Donegal roots and for returning most years for a holiday.

Dungloe parish priest Father Seamus Meehan has offered Mass in Saint Crona’s Church for the missing toddler and her distraught family.

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