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"We're not going to let bitterness get us" - sister of murdered Phyllis Murphy

The sister of Phyllis Murphy - a young woman who was murdered 40 years ago today - says the famil...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.32 22 Dec 2019


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"We're not going to let b...

"We're not going to let bitterness get us" - sister of murdered Phyllis Murphy

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.32 22 Dec 2019


Share this article


The sister of Phyllis Murphy - a young woman who was murdered 40 years ago today - says the family does not allow themselves to feel bitterness, and that they continue to live their lives for Phyllis.

23-year-old Phyllis went missing on her way home from Christmas shopping on 22nd December 1979.

Her body was found near the Wicklow Gap 28 days later, following one of the largest ever missing persons searches in the country.

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It was 23 years before former Army sergeant John Crerar, who was well known to the family, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.

40 years after the murder, Phyllis' sister Barbara spoke to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh.

"We're not going to let bitterness get us" - sister of murdered Phyllis Murphy

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Speaking about Crerar, Barbara explained: "Why would we have any grudges against [his family]?

"They went through hell themselves. It's him, and that's it - it's nothing to do with his family.

"We just got on with it ourselves too, and we're still getting on with it... but we're okay."

Discussing what it was like to hear the guilty verdict, she said "you couldn't even start to think what it was like".

She added: "Even all the old guards that came back for the verdict... even the bus driver that brought us up every day... he was from Dublin, but he cried and cried and cried.

"There were so many people hoping for it to end."

Barbara doesn't believe Crerar will return to Kildare when he is ultimately released from prison.

She argued: "What could we do if he did come back? But I don't think he will.

"We're not going to let things get us down... we're not going to let bitterness get us, because then we'd be suffering. It was enough that Phyllis suffered without us suffering."

'Keeping her memory alive'

Barbara recalled what it was like to wait for almost two decades for a breakthrough in the investigation.

She said: "We always kept it going - if there was anyone looking for interviews or anything, I gave interviews... because we agreed from the very beginning only one in the family would give interviews.

"It wasn't pleasant having to give interviews all the time - but for Phyllis' sake, and to keep her memory alive, and that she wouldn't be forgotten about."

According to Barbara, the family had eventually come to "accept that nobody would be found, but at least we had her body" - but a Garda liaison officer one day came to tell them about the breakthrough.

She added: "When it did happen then, that was a big shock.

"We were hardly an hour knowing about it when it came on the radio... it was very, very big news."

There's now a memorial to Phyllis at the Wicklow Gap, where Barbara says people always leave flowers.

The family, meanwhile, will be gathering for dinner to mark the 40th anniversary of Phyllis' death.

Barbara noted: "Because it's 40 years, all the nieces and nephews [are going]... usually it's the brothers and sisters, but they're all going out this year... it's special being 40 years.

"Everything we do... we maybe overdo it for her. We live for her."

Main image: Phyllis Murphy's sister Barbara speaks to Susan Keogh

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