The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, my ongoing mission to uncover the truth and a tribute to the victim of a tragedy still unsolved after thirty years
By Keeley Moss
Part 17 Contents Chapter 44: Made of Stone Chapter 45: Ceremony Acknowledgements for Part 17
Chapter 44: Made of Stone
Your knuckles whiten on the wheel
The last thing that your hands will feel
Your final flight can’t be delayed
The Stone Roses – ‘Made of Stone’
Before publishing the next instalment of this blog, in which I hope to discretely discuss aspects of my and John Dallat MLA’s face-to-face meeting with PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray at police headquarters in Belfast, I would like to devote an instalment to the memorial event held for Inga-Maria in Ballypatrick Forest Park on April 6th which coincided with the 30th anniversary of her murder.
With each new blog instalment every month I try to focus on a different aspect of the case or of Inga-Maria’s life, in the hope of keeping things fresh but also to hopefully ensure that this blog has as much depth and variety as possible moving forward, both in terms of paying tribute to the beautiful young life stolen at the centre of it all and also to expand the horizons of what for many years had been portrayed in the media in a rather more reductive and one-dimensional way. I have come to learn that there are many dimensions to this case, some of which are a lot more public than others – and some of which are not public at all. Even with the sixteen parts of this blog to date having amounted to some 50,000 words, there is so much more still to be said, and no doubt even more still to learn. I plan to delve into some of these issues in the future instalments of the blog but before doing so, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the memorial event staged at Ballypatrick Forest, specifically for the benefit of those who were not able to be there in person and to acknowledge those who were and who made in some cases very long journeys to attend, and to also reveal a lot of the background to the event that is not known.
Another reason for my feeling that I should dedicate an instalment to the memorial event and the inscription stone at the centre of it before moving on to other areas is that it is my intention that this blog, by the time it is complete, will hopefully contain everything that is relevant to Inga-Maria and the case. And considering that last month’s memorial was the first public event of its kind arranged for Inga-Maria, I think it would be remiss of me not to include it in the blog, even though it has been covered extensively elsewhere. However most of those newspaper accounts, while obviously very welcome in terms of generating additional coverage for what is still an unsolved case at the time of writing, were by their nature fairly straightforward reports whereas as an actual contributor to the event, and someone who had been involved since its inception I was able to have a certain perspective on it that is perhaps unique so I hope I will be able to convey that here.
Soon after publishing Inga-Maria’s performance of ‘Greensleeves’ via this blog last November which was the first time the Northern Ireland public had gotten to hear her voice, I had travelled to John Dallat’s home in Kilrea near Coleraine where John had taken me into his confidence for an initial brainstorming session about his ideas for what became the memorial event in Ballypatrick Forest Park. That weekend in November John held a meeting with myself and Councillor Donal Cunningham at the Marine Hotel in Ballycastle during which John’s initial plans were discussed. John’s original idea was for a three-day event to take place over the weekend of Inga-Maria’s 30th anniversary from April 6th to April 8th and that was to have involved a night of music at the Marine Hotel on the Friday, followed by a ceremony at the Corrymeela Ballycastle centre on the Saturday and rounded off by a sponsored walk to Ballypatrick Forest on the Sunday with all of the proceeds going to support a charity that raise funds to assist those who have been victims of sexual violence. On the day of our meeting last November, both the Marine Hotel and the Corrymeela Ballycastle Centre were provisionally booked for this purpose. However, over the following months it became apparent that these plans, while ambitious and impressive in scope, might prove too elaborate an undertaking that would run the risk of the intended purpose of the original idea becoming unfocused, and that Inga-Maria’s memory would in fact be better served by streamlining the memorial plans to a one-day event, with a suitably-sombre ceremony centred around the unveiling of an inscription stone in her honour, the first of its kind, to mark the area where her life was so cruelly taken on the night of her arrival in Northern Ireland all those years ago.
So many people had messaged me over the past two years to say that it was a shame that there was nothing in the area to commemorate Inga-Maria’s tragic passing. This had weighed on my mind for some time, and I know it was the same for John for even longer. We also felt the absence of an inscription stone meant that aside from a photo of Inga that a local person had thoughtfully placed by a tree along the nature ramble in Ballypatrick Forest (see photo directly below) there was nothing to act as a focal point for people to pay their respects, all the more so considering that Inga-Maria is buried not in Northern Ireland but in her native city of Munich which is not easily accessible for the many people in Northern Ireland and in particular the communities of the rural Glens and Causeway Coast area who have touchingly taken Inga-Maria to their hearts.
The weeks preceding the memorial were very hectic, with so much to prepare and the event needing to be promoted. John marshalled everything superbly and delegated extremely well, assigning various roles to people who he instinctively felt were right for each task. John himself crucially secured funding for the creation of the inscription stone and he co-ordinated with Councillor Donal Cunningham to make the necessary arrangements for the event. John nominated me to write the wording for the inscription. It meant the world to me to be asked to do that, especially as having communicated at length over the past few years with friends and family members of Inga-Maria, and with the desire I have felt from the outset in wanting this blog to focus on the person Inga-Maria was and on the events of her life as much as possible (and not just the grisly details of her death, or the many mysterious aspects of the case itself) I felt I was in a good position to choose a wording that would represent the person she was, and that I hoped she herself would have approved of.
John also asked me to create a four-page booklet to be distributed at the event (the front page of which is pictured in the middle of the roses in the photo at the top of the page) and to perform music during the ceremony. For the memorial booklet I chose my favourite photo of Inga-Maria for the front, one that I felt captures her smiling youthful zest so poignantly, one in which her appetite for life and her hopes for the future are I think visible on her face, a future that would mutate into a nightmare on the night that very face was damaged beyond repair. Inside the booklet was an introductory message penned by John on the second page, with Clare McCotter’s triptych of poems for Inga-Maria taking up the third page (these poems had been featured in Part 15 of this blog). Finally, on the back page there featured a poem John had written for Inga entitled No Beauty Hath Ever Been Seen (this can also be viewed in Part 15 of this blog, a poem John was too modest to take any credit for upon its inclusion in the memorial booklet) and lastly the back page included the lyrics to a new song I have written from Inga’s mother Almut Hauser’s perspective. Finally, at the bottom of the back page the most well-known iconic photo of Inga was added and with that, once the correct margins, spacings and fonts were added, the memorial booklet was complete.
John enlisted Clare McCotter to read her poems for Inga during the ceremony and Donal Cunningham was asked by John to perform the role of MC. As a lovely additional touch, John bought thirty red roses and his wife Anne took care to tie a black ribbon around each and every one of the roses, to symbolise the fact that it had now been thirty years since Inga-Maria’s life was so brutally taken.
While John co-ordinated the preparations for the memorial and Donal liaised with the creator of the inscription stone (a local man named Donal Og Newcombe) I set up an event page on Facebook to which I manually invited several hundred people and generally handled the social media promotion of the event to get the word out. No sooner had word gotten out about the event we were planning that we were contacted by a number of press outlets keen to cover the occasion. John and I undertook a round of interviews with local and national media to further try to ensure that anyone who would be interested in attending wouldn’t miss out. In the meantime I worked on the memorial booklet and the wording for the inscription stone. It struck me that the wording couldn’t be too elaborate – it needed to balance economy of language with as succinct a summarisation as possible of the message we wanted to convey. There were a hundred things I could’ve said but I knew I wouldn’t have a huge amount of space to work with. Each word would carry a considerable weight as essentially the wording could come to be seen to define Inga-Maria’s life.
Which is all the more so as Inga-Maria’s grave at the Ostfriedhof in Munich doesn’t actually have any headstone, instead what is there is something I would describe more as a grave marker. There is no wording on this grave marker other than her name and the year she was born and died. Anyone looking at Inga’s grave who didn’t know her would have no idea of the sort of person she was, of what interested her, or of what her personality was like. These are the very things she was denied the chance to reveal to people by the man who murdered her and those who assisted him, which is one of the main reasons I’m so intent on trying to communicate those qualities of hers through this blog and in as many interviews as I’m asked to do.
After John had asked me to write the inscription, I had sat up in bed that morning in my flat in Dublin and tried to imagine what Inga herself might choose for the wording. It’s a subject I’d imagine most people rarely ponder, as it’s an understandably uncomfortable thought to think of yourself no longer being alive but…What epitaph would you pick for yourself if you could choose a few lines to summarise your life? It might be more difficult than you think. And as difficult as it might be to choose your own epitaph, imagine being tasked with writing the epitaph for someone you never met – and what’s more someone who has posthumously become so important to you, and indeed very significant to an increasingly large number of people, many of whom would in the future be taking time out of their day to travel to see the inscription stone and pay their respects. The stone would hopefully be a lasting testament to a person who none of us got to meet and who arrived almost totally unnoticed and unheralded in Larne on that Spring night in 1988 but whose incredibly-brief presence on Irish shores and it’s agonising aftermath continues to resonate in ways she never could have imagined on the evening she fatefully set sail from Stranraer Harbour. So, I knew the wording had to be perfect. Inga’s memory would deserve nothing less.
But…what to write? I instinctively felt that rather than grappling with any complicated ideas, I should start with the basic information that would need to preface any wording. And so I thought I’d reprise something I’ve written at the end of every part of this blog.
Born May 28th 1969
Died April 6th 1988
Simple, but essential.
For the following lines however, I knew I wanted to make a statement that went beyond basic details, and into the realm of Inga’s personality and something that was important to her. The first thing that jumped into my mind here was music. She loved music of course, she sang and played music. And then I thought of friendship. The one character trait most associated with Inga-Maria is how sociable and friendly she was. The friends of hers I’ve spoken with all describe how easily she made friends, and how comfortable everyone felt in her company. Then-RUC Detective Chief Superintendent George Caskey when discussing Inga in 1988 had described her as “a friendly and outgoing young girl who made friends easily”. PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray described her in near-identical terms to me during our recent meeting with him. So with that in mind it struck me that the best way to arrive at the perfect wording to complete the inscription stone would be to somehow combine her love of music with her love of friendship. And then it occurred to me – her favourite song, as revealed for the first time in Part 12 of this blog, was ‘Mocking Bird’ by Barclay James Harvest. That fact had been revealed to me by a man named Walter who was one of Inga’s teenage friends, who was one of the people who described her most vividly to me. So here I felt was an opportunity to combine her love of music and friendship. I scanned through the lyrics of ‘Mocking Bird’ and it was then that I realised that this song featured what would be the perfect lines to complete the wording on the inscription stone:
Time will see your tears run dry
There’s a mocking bird singing songs in the trees
However, there was more…For not only would the inclusion of this line reflect Inga’s passion for music and her favourite song, and it also had a connection with friendship in the form of it having been revealed to me by her friend, but it seemed to eerily foreshadow the circumstances of what had actually happened on the night she would have cried very real tears “in the trees”. There was an additional relevance I felt in the notion of a mocking bird – one could say the mocking bird in this case is Inga’s killer and his accomplices, possibly having a good laugh for much of the last thirty years while presumably mocking the efforts of the police for valiantly trying but as of yet failing to bring them to justice. Which brings me to the title of this chapter, Made of Stone. For one thing it is the title of a song by The Stone Roses released on March 6th 1989 exactly 11 months to the day after Inga was murdered, secondly the subject of this instalment focuses on a memorial marker that is literally made of stone, and thirdly the killer of Inga-Maria Hauser and his chief accomplice must have hearts made of stone to have apparently not struggled with the evil enormity of what they did to an innocent young girl who only wanted to give Northern Ireland a chance at the height of the Troubles, a time when so few other foreign tourists were willing to.
Chapter 45: Ceremony
The dark clouds in bouquet above
For how long will this dark age last?
For how long must we wait to learn?
And can others see…
Or do they navigate in dark?
If you ever want to dock your dream
Well you’ll need love to guide your fragile ark
The Dukes of Stratosphear – ‘Little Lighthouse’
The scene at Ballypatrick Forest Park on April 6th 2018 as the minutes ticked down towards the commencement of the memorial event was that of rural Northern Ireland at its Wintry worst. Strong winds and a continuous downpour were more than matched by an extremely biting cold that honestly felt as severe as any I have ever known. Having been to Ballypatrick Forest many times now, for all of its deserved status as a stunningly-beautiful location that is home to all manner of fauna and flora and where wildlife thrives, it always seems to me to be significantly colder than anywhere else. It’s by some distance the coldest place I’ve been, and that’s from someone from Dublin, a city that’s no stranger to inclement weather. The freezing cold was appropriate however, in that it held a certain kinship with the chilling circumstances of the events that had taken place there exactly thirty years previous.
The crowd of locals and well-wishers, accompanied by a large media contingent, was already assembling as John and I made our approach by car, alongside Clare McCotter and John’s wife Anne Dallat. We had announced that the event was to take place at 1pm, which was largely in order to facilitate the participation of the UTV Live news team, whose chief reporter Barbara McCann and producer Chris Hagan have always been supportive of our campaign on behalf of Inga-Maria. Barbara as a young reporter in 1988 had actually been present, in her words, “as the body of Inga-Maria was carried from the forest with a respect not shown to her by the man who murdered her”.
As the ceremony got underway it was apparent that a significant number of people had taken time out of their day to venture in some cases many miles to this distant and remote outdoors location, and all the more so amid such terrible weather. That made it feel even more special that people had chosen to put the memory of Inga-Maria to the forefront of their thoughts, and had made a special effort to be there. At this point the memorial booklets were distributed and the event commenced…
Rather than my describing the event as it unfolded, I think there’s no substitute for reality, so I shall let the following footage instead bring the day to life.
This is the way, step inside.
Inga-Maria Hauser. Born May 28th 1969. Died April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Please get in touch with me via email in the ‘Contact’ section if you have any information in relation to this case.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&© 2018. All rights reserved.
Acknowledgements for Parts 17
With thanks to John Dallat MLA, Anne Dallat, Daniel Kane, Suzanne Wehrly-Kane, Mags McCaw, Inga Richardson and Peter Heathwood. There is a Light that Never Goes Out.
Photography by Justin Kernaghan, Inga Richardson and Keeley Moss.
‘Made of Stone’ written by Squire/Brown. Published by Zomba Music Publishers Ltd. © 1989
‘Mocking Bird’ written by John Lees. Publisher unknown © 1971
‘Little Lighthouse’ written by Andy Partridge. Published by Virgin Music Ltd © 1987