Family overwhelmed by support in search for John

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The family of missing Derry man John Concannon have expressed gratitude to the hundreds of people who have turned out to search for him.

This morning on the Facebook page it was announced there will be no official search today (Tuesday), but that the family would meet to discuss searches over the coming days, although those wishing to search have been advised that the aim is to concentrate on the Bridgend/ Burt area.

Searches were conducted yesterday along the woodlands, farmland and outhouses from Muff to Burnfoot, as well as in the Bridgend and Burt areas.

Volunteers from Derry and Inishowen again gathered at Lenamore in the morning before splitting into teams.

While searches continued, a group of local women were going door-to-door with posters of John in the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared two weeks ago today.

John’s brother Michael said that over 200 people responded to an appeal for volunteers at the weekend.

John Concannon.

John Concannon.

John’s neighbours from Altcar Park in Galliagh had issued the appeal on Friday.

Michael said: “There has been a tremendous response. I was shocked at the amount of people.

“There were around 140 on Saturday morning. I stopped counting at 126 and there were cars pulling up after that. It was the same again on Sunday, over 60 cars.

“It just shows you, when push comes to shove, the local people will stand up and be counted. It shows you the heart of the people.

It just shows you, when push comes to shove, the local people will stand up and be counted. It shows you the heart of the people.

Michael Concannon

“It has been absolutely brilliant because, as you can imagine, if it was just us going out you would get discouraged, but when you get lots of people turning up it keeps you going.”

The PSNI, Gardai, Community Search & Rescue, Donegal Mountain Rescue and Foyle Search & Rescue were also conducting searches for John at the weekend.

It is two weeks today since John Concannon (71) went missing.

The Derry man suffers from dementia and is anaemic as well as being deaf.

He is known to have gotten off the Fernabbey bus near Lenamore Road and was seen walking in the direction of the border at around 5.40pm on November 10.

Another brother of John Concannon’s said that the only hope now was if he was with somebody or had managed to find shelter.

Robert Concannon was speaking at the search meeting point as he and his siblings and wider family circle continued to search alongside volunteers at the weekend. He said: “Our only hope is that he is is in somewhere with somebody or he is in a barn or an old building somewhere that could help to preserve him, but it’s not looking good at this stage to be honest.”

Robert also paid tribute to the hundreds of volunteers who have been help in the daily searches. He said: “I can’t thank them enough for coming out and giving us a hand. We know he can’t help himself; can’t communicate. I have to thank all the Search and Rescue, the police and everybody else.”

The search in hte BUrt area yesterday came after it emerged that John had mentioned some years ago, back when he could speak, to staff at a charity shop in Derry about his mother’s birthplace around Elagh Farm, opposite Burt chapel.

Michael said said: “This was in his head a couple of years ago and people with dementia sometimes revert back to their childhood,” he said: “It’s a huge site, 600 to 700 acres and it would be near 90 years since our mother lived there, but there might be a childhood memory about that that stuck with him.”

There have also been a number of other people who have come forward and said they think they saw John the morning after he disappeared, near the Rock Bar, and on the road from near there leading to the 19th Hole bar in Bridgend.

One woman thinks she saw him on the latter, waving his arms in the middle of the road, but panicked at the time and only made the connection on hearing about John being missing several days later.

The operation yesterday across from Bridgend roundabout to Callaghan’s Garage and up along the Slab Road.

There were also searches conducted yesterday along the area up to Grianan Fort, right up to the top of the hill, and down to the nature reserve at Inch Island.

“We’ve had no luck as yet,” his brother Michael said last night. “It’s a really big area, you just don’t realise it until look where he could be.

“There is plenty of ground to cover in terms of where he could be.

“We are going to have to have a sit down to see where else we can go beyond that area.”

Meanwhile back in Derry, a team were last night planning to go door-to-door in the Oakbridge, Lenamore an Sandbank Cottages areas close to where John was last seen.

Search volunteering information can be found on the Facebook page: ‘Foot search for John Concannon’.