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Christine’s plea to find Donegal father 31.03.14

by Linda McGrory

A WOMAN who last saw her Donegal father when he brought her as a child for a new pair of shoes has appealed for help in tracing him nearly 40 years on.
Christine McNeil (46) will never forget that trip to the shoe shop in St Andrews, Scotland, in 1974. It would be the final time the seven year old would see her dad.
"As was typical of the time, my mother and father got married because she was pregnant. The marriage didn’t last very long," said Christine.
The mother-of-two emigrated to New Zealand with husband Alec McNeil and sons Eamon (18) and Michael (11) six years ago.
She knows her father remarried and had more children but has withheld his name because she’s unaware if his second family knows she exists.
“My father was a manual worker. My birth certificate says that he was a motor tractor driver. He'll be in his seventies now,” she adds.
Christine McNeil pictured as a child aged six.
She doesn’t entirely blame him for not being a part of her life after he and her mother divorced.
When they moved from their home village of Leuchars near Fife, her mother chose not to tell him their new address.
Christine, an only child, corresponded briefly with her Donegal grandmother 25 years ago but has since lost all contact with Ireland. She has no idea where her elderly father currently lives but reveals he originally came from a small border town in Donegal north east.
Christine McNeil (46) who is searching for the Donegal father she last saw in a St Andrews shoe shop in 1974.
It was only recently while making a scrapbook for her son’s eighteenth birthday, she unearthed some old photos and decided to try and trace him as much for her children’s sakes as her own.
“I have very few memories of my father but I do remember him as being a warm and happy person. I think it's possible that he got married in Scotland before moving back to Ireland,” she said.
"In a sense I don't know who I am and I'd really like to put some missing pieces of the jigsaw back together. I speak with a Scottish accent but I feel Irish.
"Our children have Irish names. I'd like to give them an insight into their heritage as well.”
Christine, a nurse who is studying for a masters in sociology, would also like to make a connection with her half brothers and sisters.
She now hopes that through the details of her appeal and her photograph, her father will recognise his smiling first-born and get in touch.
Christine can be contacted at christinemcneil@xtra.co.nz .
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