Una Lynskey Murder: 'People heard screams coming from fields'

Una Lynskey stepped off a bus from Dublin in October 1971 for a 15-minute walk home, but she was never seen alive again
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.36 30 Jan 2024

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Una Lynskey Murder: 'People he...

Una Lynskey Murder: 'People heard screams coming from fields'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.36 30 Jan 2024

Share this article

Screams coming from a field and a mysterious car are just two of the crucial elements from the night of October 12th, 1971.

Una Lynskey was 19 and had a job with the Land Commission in Dublin City.

That evening she stepped off a bus on the Fairyhouse Road near Ratoath, Co Meath when she hurried up Porterstown Lane towards her family's farm.


The walk would take no more than 15 minutes but she was never seen alive again.

Her body was later found fully clothed in the Dublin Mountains.

What happened next caused deep and long-lasting division in an otherwise tight-knit community - and the impacts are still being felt over 50 years later.

It pitted neighbour against neighbour, ruined families and destroyed friendships as suspicion built around three young men from the same laneway.

Newstalk Courts Correspondent and Inside The Crime Host Frank Greaney told The Pat Kenny Show sightings of a mysterious car are just one of the pieces of this puzzle.

"It really was a community where everybody knew everybody, neighbours were always knocking into one another, you were never left wanting if you needed anything from your neighbours," he said.

"It was, and to a certain degree still is, a small farming community".

Frank said there were sightings of a Ford car and some screams heard the night Una disappeared.

"We've spoken to a lot of people as part of our research into this podcast," he said.

"Two of our main contributors would be Una Lynskey's cousin, a man called Paraic Gaughan, and his wife Mary.

"When speaking about Una, [Paraic's] description was the same description that a lot of people that we've spoken to who knew her back in the day.

"They would say that she was very shy, unassuming girl but very friendly, very personable, a very beautiful young woman.

"Something like this had never happened before - and sadly, she wasn't the only tragedy in the Porterstown Lane area around that time.

"That's something that we get into later in the podcast".

'Pivotal 15 minutes'

Frank said the events of that night have one pivotal 15-mibute window after Una stepped off the bus.

"She stepped off the bus just before 7pm - according to Anne Gaughan, it was 6.53pm exactly," he said.

"We don't know to this day exactly what happened in the next 15 minutes or so, but what we do know is that Una never made it home.

"In that pivotal 15-minute timeframe people in the area heard screams coming from some fields known locally as The Three Acres.

"There were also sightings of a mysterious car; people were unsure as to whether it was a Ford Zephyr or a Ford Zodiac.

"The Zodiac and the Zephyr looked very similar; but the Zodiac was a far more luxurious model - in fact, it was a car driven by Ministers at the time.

"Not only was it unusual to see cars on the road at that time, but it was certainly unusual to see a Ford Zodiac".

'I got a great look at him'

Una's cousin Paraic Gaughan, who got off another bus at around the same time as Una, told the podcast what he heard and saw that night.

"I just hard something coming behind and we just stepped in - it would have been in the last seconds that I turned around and I saw this car coming towards me," he said.

"You heard no sound, so it just showed you how new the car was and how clean [it was].

"That car crept by us and it wasn't going fast and I looked straight into the driver, I got a great look at him.

"It was this middle-aged man, well-dressed [in a] suit and tie, well-groomed."

Mr Gaughan said he couldn't tell what type of car it was.

'Young girl struggling'

Frank said a large search began for Una involving the entire community.

"It was unusual for Una not some home on time, so the search for Una got underway straight away," he said.

"Locals were out in force, farmers arrived in droves, every neighbour was out on the street looking for Una.

"In the days afterwards another man - James Donnelly, a local farmer - came forward to say that he saw something far more sinister than what Paraic had seen.

"He described seeing a car speeding out of the junction, in fact his van had to swerve out of the way.

"He said he saw a man driving this large, dark-coloured Ford car and he said he saw a young girl in the back who seemed to be struggling with a man who was trying to kiss her.

"He described her as looking very frightened," Frank added.

This is the story of the Una Lynskey Murder.

Throughout the season, you can go Deeper Inside the Crime with interactive mapsfamily trees and in-depth articles examining the key points from the story.

Listen and subscribe to Inside the Crime on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify now.


Download, listen and subscribe on the Newstalk App.


Main image: Newstalk Courts Correspondent and Inside The Crime Host Frank Greaney speaking on The Pat Kenny Show. Image: Newstalk

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