Mystery of County Limerick man's disappearance in Australia

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

Paddy Moriarty, believed to be from Abbeyfeale, but now missing in Australia

Paddy Moriarty, believed to be from Abbeyfeale, but now missing in Australia

THE name of Paddy Moriarty has been on everybody’s lips in Abbeyfeale since reports emerged at the weekend that police in Australia are treating his disappearance as suspicious.

But so far, nobody has managed to trace the family identity of the 70-year-old man who is believed to be from Abbeyfeale and to have left Ireland for Australia when he was 19. Meanwhile the mystery of his disappearance continues to baffle police. 

Paddy Moriarty has been missing since December 16 last when he vanished from the remote village of Larrimah in Australia’s Northern Territory. Larrimah is 400km from Darwin and has a population of 10.

Local police are now saying they are watching “persons of interest” in relation to the case. They were alerted to Mr Moriarty’s disappearance when he failed to turn up as usual at his local bar, The Pink Panther, the only one within  80 kilometres.

The pub owner, Barry Sharpe, tried to locate Mr Moriarty but could not find him or his dog at home and further searches, including at the local dump,  have since been conducted, with no outcome.

A man of tidy habits who was a stickler for routine, Paddy apparently left behind his wallet and, significant in that part of the world, his signature bush hat. He had even, it seems, crossed off that day's date on his calendar, His quad-bike and  pick-up truck were parked up and his bank and social security accounts have not been accessed.

Paddy's dog Kellie, a constant companion who rode around with her owner on the quad-bike, has vanished with him.  With no physical evidence to work with and no known witnesses, the case remains open. According to the guarded statements issued by detectives at the Northern Territory major crimes unit, there are no suspects though there are several persons of interest. They have been unable to locate any relatives. 

 "He’s got no relatives in Australia so I think he’s been done in, I really do," Mr Sharpe told a local news outlet, while a local friend Bill Hodgetts also suspects foul play, saying Paddy is "definitely not" alive.

According to Kylie Stevenson, a journalist and writer from Darwin who got to know Moriarty and the other locals in the year before he disappeared, Larrimah is a place of rural eccentricity where people dress human-sized termite mounds in T-shirts. It  straddles the Stuart Highway, a mostly straight road that stretches nearly 3,000km through central Australia, bisecting the continent from north to south. 

Ms Stevenson described it as a place of rural eccentricity where people dress human-sized termite mounds in T-shirts.

"Everybody seems friendly, but a lot of things about this town put me on edge: signs of imminent death and decay are all around. This place and its people are falling apart,” she wrote. The remaining residents are "people who mostly hate each other", she observed.

However, she said Paddy “stood out as always friendly and up for a chat at the bar".