The Ulster community among whom Madeleine McCann’s family spent their last complete holiday together will gather tomorrow to pray for her — two years to the day since she vanished.
The residents of the remote picturesque coastal town of Dungloe in west Donegal will gather to pray at St Crona’s Church, where just over two years ago they had stood alongside Gerry and Kate McCann and their three children at Mass over Easter.
The McCann family had been visiting the area on holiday in April 2007 before stopping off at their family-owned pub in St Johnston on the Donegal side of the border, just a few miles from Londonderry city centre.
Madeleine and her family had been enjoying a holiday with over 40 relatives and friends in Dungloe and had also visited the neighbouring Gweedore region.
In pictures released following her disappearance, the three-year-old was seen with her cousins happily playing on the beach and enjoying an ice cream during the Easter break.
Local priest, Reverend Nigel O’Gaillachoir, said: “Last year we prayed for Madeleine and we will have prayers for her again this weekend. The family had been visiting the area and had attended services here.”
Fr O’Gaillachoir said that the two year anniversary since little Madeleine’s disappearance was a poignant time to remember other people who are missing.
“We will pray for anybody who is bereaved or lost or searching like this. Our hearts go out to them.”
The McCann family have strong Donegal connections which stretch back over centuries and Gerry’s family still owns a pub in St Johnston, where his father Johnny was born.
Joe Peoples, who took over the pub after Gerry's parents, Johnny and Eileen, moved away to start a new life in Scotland in the mid- 1960s, said the thoughts of local people were with the devastated family as they faced the second |anniversary.
Mr Peoples, who is a friend of Eileen McCann, and who was visited by Gerry, Kate and their children during their visit two years ago, said: “Your head would be pickled thinking about it — there’s not a day goes by when you don’t think about it.”
Madeleine was snatched from her bed as she slept in a holiday complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3.