Christine’s plea to find Donegal
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
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
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
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
"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