THE discovery of a precious photograph of a Milford-born man whose family have not heard from him since he emigrated to Australia five decades ago has sparked a renewed appeal for information on his whereabouts.
John Anthony McGinley was 20-years-old when he left Donegal for Australia on an Assisted Migration Scheme in 1965.
He settled in Talbingo in New South Wales, writing home for two years. In his last letter, John told his family he was moving east but did not supply a forwarding address. That was the last they ever heard from him.
Born on May 19, 1945, to parents Johnny and Annie (now deceased), John was one of 11 siblings; Colm, Dessie, Michael, Gerald, Frances, Brigid, Sara, Anna, Mary and Vera, who is deceased. Sadly, his parents and sister passed away never having heard any more from John.
The passage of time without any news of John has been difficult for his family. His niece, Marie Lynagh believes the finding of the beloved photograph of her uncle is significant. She has spearheaded a renewed campaign to appeal for help in tracing her uncle’s whereabouts and is being helped by an online service, Irish Families in Perth.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Marie said: “John is my mum, Mary’s brother. He travelled to Australia in 1965 on the Assisted Migration Scheme for £10. No-one really knows why he decided to go to Australia. I suppose he was young and he thought, like many others, he would go and make his fortune there.”
Precious letters written by John to his family revealed he was settling well in Australia and enjoying his new life there.
“The letters spoke about him settling well and being happy. He had worked as a bar manager previously before he went there so maybe he was doing that line of work. He wrote for two years, and his last letter home said he was moving east but no-one knew if he meant east Australia or east to New Zealand. It’s so strange he didn’t write again.”
When John initially lost contact, his family had contacted police in Australia and the Salvation Army, among a number of organisations. However, they received no new information.
Since starting her search last year, an appeal for information was heard on radio in New South Wales, however, no new information has come to light.
Marie said she believes her uncle is still alive.
“John is 72-years-of-age now. That’s still young by today’s standards. We’ve had no word to tell us otherwise, so I believe John is still alive. I believe the photo was meant to turn up to spur us on, like a sign. It would be great to get word that he was alive and well. You see things like this on programmes like Surprise Surprise all the time where families haven’t seen loved ones in 60 years and they find them again.”
Marie said she hopes the fresh appeal will reach John.
“I think to myself, ‘why didn’t he write?’ I don’t know the reason why he didn’t keep in touch. The Assisted Migration Scheme tempted him to go to Australia. It was sad for his parents and family because, really, back then when people left the country they left for good.
“But, I believe if anything bad happened, surely there would have been word home, but there has been no communication from any official bodies to say anything such. I’m holding on to that hope. It’s hard to know what could have happened to him.
“He had been working in bars and my uncle had mentioned that he had said something about going into the army, but his eyesight was poor so I don’t think he would have been accepted into the army.”
Marie hopes news of the appeal reaches her uncle.
“If, for whatever reason, he doesn’t want to be found but somehow saw this appeal and contacted us to let us know that he was well we would be so happy.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Marie Lynagh via Facebook or see Irish Families in Perth on Facebook.
Posted: 2:00 pm September 21, 2018