Three Irish siblings reunited thanks to DNA tests

An astonishing story of three siblings abandoned as infants and who discovered each other in adulthood through DNA tests is revealed this week.

Helen Ward and David McBride were reunited on a television program when both were in their 50s.

Then, amazingly, in 2020 they discovered another brother, John, also in his 50s, and television viewers saw the three emotionally reunited on ITV’s “Long Lost Family: What Happens Next”.

Without birth records or known parents, they grew up in adopted families.

Long Lost Family” revealed that infant David was found in a red tartan duffel bag in the driveway of a house in Belfast in 1962.

Six years later, in 1968, Helen was found, also in a red tartan duffel bag, in a phone box near a hospital in Dundalk, Co. Louth. She was wearing a little hand-made dress and a bottle placed next to her was still warm.     

The show revealed details behind how the third sibling, John, was re-united after his daughter Donna noticed striking physical resemblances to her father in Helen and David when she watched the first show.

Journalist Paul Murphy found John swaddled in a blue blanket inside a holdall in Drogheda in a telephone kiosk in May 1965.

Despite a story filed by Paul appearing on the front page of the Evening Press, the parents were never discovered.

Forty-eight years later Paul and John became friends through a phone call to the Drogheda Independent where the reporter was employed.

Paul, who features in the program, told the Irish Independent, “He rang the paper looking for a contact for me and the next morning he was standing in the local hotel waiting for me. I brought him up to the place where he had been found. The phone box was long gone, but it was an emotional journey for him.

 “He told me he was adopted, that he had two wonderful adoptive parents, and that his life was a good one.”

As John met Helen and David for the first time during the TV program’s filming. He said, “Just to actually look into their eyes and just see – is there a similar person looking back at you? At least someone else will have something in common with me.”    

Details of the birth parents reveal a love affair of almost 40 years between an unmarried Kerry woman living in Dublin and a married musician with 14 children.

Both have died – the father in 1993 aged 82 and the mother in 2017 aged 90.

* Originally published in 2020, updated in 2022.

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