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Silver key unlocks six-year-old mystery of tragic unknown man found dead in Galway woods

A SILVER key has unlocked the mystery of the identity of a man whose remains were found in a Co Galway wood six years ago.

is body was found in Rusheen Bay Woods in Barna by a man out walking his dog on September 27, 2014.

The weather had been good for the few weeks before the discovery, and gardaí were hopeful people out walking would have noticed someone matching his description in the area.

No form of identification was found on the man and he had very few items in his possession – some sterling and euro currency, a watch and clothes believed to have been bought in the US or Canada, as well as a single silver key with EPA inscribed on it.

The death was treated as a personal tragedy but after extensive efforts to figure out who this man was, including a national appeal for information, and searches of local and international missing person’s databases, gardaí were no closer to finding out his identity.

A DNA profile was generated by forensic scientist Dr Dorothy Ramsbottom and a dental chart was compiled by a forensic oral surgeon.

A facial reconstruction was carried out by Dr Christopher Rynn from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee in Scotland, but gardaí were still no closer to solving the mystery of who the man was.

But after almost six years it was a seemingly innocuous clue which unlocked the mystery – the single, silver inscribed key.

Gardaí made a number of appeals for information but nothing came of them. That was until recent weeks when two Polish men heard of the appeals and contacted gardaí.

They told officers another Polish man had been living with them in a house in Galway for a brief period in late September 2014.

He told them to rent out his room after a certain period of time if he did not return. Since that time, the men had changed the locks in their home, but luckily had retained the old locking mechanism.

Having kept the key, gardaí checked if it worked, and as the lock opened, the case was finally closed. This led to a definite line of enquiry as to the person’s identity, and this week a DNA comparison, carried out via Interpol in Poland, confirmed the man to be a Polish national.

Gardaí understand the man travelled from Poland to the US in the early 1990s and, in 2014, travelled to Ireland weeks before his body was found in Rusheen Bay Woods.

Arising from the lack of a formal identity, the State made arrangements for a burial to take place in Bohermore Cemetery in Galway city.

The man’s relatives have now been contacted and a file will now be prepared for the local coroner.

Despite the passage of time and lack of any leads, gardaí in Salthill never closed their investigation and this has ensured the man’s family now have some closure.

Garda Superintendent Patrick McHugh said: “The circumstances of this case are sad and tragic. The family and An Garda Síochána are grateful to the individuals who came forward to provide us with the key to solving this matter.”

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