The definitive account of the only case of its kind in Northern Ireland, the ongoing campaign for justice and a labour-of-love in memory of the victim of a murder mystery still officially unsolved after 31 years
By Keeley Moss
PART 21 - CONTENTS
Chapter 55: Walking In Your Footsteps
Chapter 56: Planning the Trip
Chapter 57: London
Chapter 58: Leave the Capitol
Acknowledgements for Part 21
Chapter 55: Walking In Your Footsteps
Already Gone: A still from the 1988 Crimewatch UK reconstruction of Inga’s case. The young woman playing the part of Inga can be seen here to the right of the picture, carrying Inga’s actual backpack and other belongings as she makes her way towards the platform in the process of catching a British Rail train
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled
These city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you
U2 – ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’
I can’t remember the exact moment it first occurred to me. But at some point towards the end of 2018 the idea popped into my mind, and once it had I couldn’t shake it loose. Gradually over a period of months the initial idea congealed into a firm plan. For anyone familiar with this case, Inga was murdered on the night she arrived in Northern Ireland. But her visit to “the North” as it is most commonly referred to by people in my home city of Dublin was only supposed to be brief, she had planned to travel on to Dublin the next day, ahead of a meeting in Wales a couple of days later, and was expected back in school in Munich very soon after that. For years the extent of Inga’s unfulfilled potential has gnawed away at me. But the abrupt and brutal ending of her path through life isn’t the only journey that was so prematurely curtailed. The other, more immediate journey denied to her is the one she was in the process of completing when she was killed. Larne to Belfast. Belfast to Dublin. And beyond. A fact that had sat uncomfortably in the back of my mind for as long as I’ve been writing and campaigning on her behalf. A journey incomplete. A mission unfulfilled. On the night of April 6th 1988 when she was killed, her plans were just left hanging in the air, with no resolution, no ending. And that bothered me until I got the idea to try to complete that mission.
But I wanted to go further. And start where she had, all those years ago. It would mean retracing her steps. It would mean going to London. And travelling on to Oxford. Then to Bath. Then onto the train stations of Bristol, Liverpool and Preston before venturing to the Scottish highlands of Inverness before making train connections at two separate Glasgow stations before a further rail connection at Ayr, then going on to Stranraer and catching a ferry to Larne in Northern Ireland. And then, attempting to complete the part of the journey where Inga ran into disaster, by trying to get to Belfast, and then moving on to Dublin. I work every weekend in Dublin, and would have to try to fit this epic trek into a four-day period. So I wouldn’t be able to try go on to Cardiff or Munich. But I felt that if I could retrace the last four days of Inga’s life, and complete a couple of extra legs of the journey that she never got to, then that would be a fitting, living tribute to her inspiration. I also envisaged it providing me with a key insight into aspects of her trip, that would expand my understanding of exactly how far she had travelled and to see and hear with my own eyes and ears just what she had had to go through to get as far as she had on the night she was murdered. I felt that in turn this would benefit the book I’m writing about her life and the case. And I got that. But I got more. A lot more. Little did I know when starting out just how close to the flame I would get.
Over the next twelve months I’m planning on sharing the story of this spiritual mission here. Before I left for the trip, I anticipated covering it in the blog over one or two parts. But on returning in early December and sifting through the amount of material that I gathered on my travels I realised that I would have to devote an instalment to each leg of the journey. There ended up being 25 legs in all, so even with compressing the journey as concisely as possible it would take a minimum of a dozen parts of the blog to tell the story. Each instalment of this blog takes approximately one month to write and edit, simultaneously while working on completing my book on Inga’s life story and the complete history of her unsolved case while holding down a day job (that is unrelated to my work on Inga’s case) in the meantime. So another twelve parts of this blog will take approximately twelve months. But my passion for this person and her cause is such that it wouldn’t deter me even if it would take twelve years. Being a very passionate person, whenever I’m committed to something, I go all-out.
I did consider not posting the story of my retracing Inga’s steps. I know that doing so will potentially make me a target for a troll or two out there. But you know what? Bring it on. I have yet to let leeches limit my life, and I’m not going to start now. Not with the fire that burns like a furnace inside me. So I’m going to do this, and will approach it with the same spirit I approached the backpacking trip with. Which is I believe the same spirit Inga approached her own backpacking trip with. And come what may. Because the way I see it, if Inga can inspire me to write songs and this blog and to follow in her footsteps, if she can inspire John Dallat MLA in the way she does, if she can inspire Oliver McParland to paint her magnificent portrait (see Part 19), if she can inspire poets such as Clare McCotter and Colin Sloan (see Part 15), if she can command the compassion and respect of practically the entire community of North Antrim then ultimately she lives on. And in this regard it could be said she is more alive than her killers, who I don’t see inspiring anyone. For Inga is no longer a footnote in the dusty annals of faded newspapers, she has risen to become an increasing source of inspiration for the living.
As I quoted at the beginning of Part 19, as Bob Dylan once said, “The highest purpose of art is to inspire”. Well, if that is true, and I believe it is, so it follows that the highest purpose of life is to inspire. Therefore it stands to reason that the more Inga inspires, the more of a presence she has in the modern-day world. If what happened to her had happened to me at the age of 18, and if I’d had the choice of being an inspirational icon or not, I would definitely prefer the former to the latter, regardless of the fact I wouldn’t have been around to see it. We can’t bring Inga back to life, and we may not be able to put her killers behind bars. But I can take the inspiration she fuels in me, and use it to think outside the box and try unorthodox things, like publishing the audio of Greensleeves which if my plan had worked could have seen to it that Inga would have played a crucial role in solving her own case, with her own voice that had been silenced on that Spring night in 1988. Inga was very artistic, I’m artistic as well and so I try to honour the spirit of her artistic nature by resorting to artistic means to try keep her dream alive. And what was that dream? In the words of her mum Almut, “Her greatest dream was to travel to Great Britain during the school holidays”.
So, that’s what I was going to do. I would go to the UK and try to honour the spirit of her 1988 trip in as many ways as possible. And try to complete the parts of the journey Inga was prevented from doing. It was something my soul needed to see through. And while it was still 2018 I felt it was even more imperative. Thirty years on from 1988. I would buy an Interrail ticket. I would travel alone. I would stay in the youth hostel in Oxford just as she had. I would sleep on the train to Inverness just as she had. I would try to stay in a hostel when I got to Belfast. I would go wherever, and do whatever was necessary to retrace her steps to the letter. London. Oxford. Bath. Cambridge. London again. Bristol. Liverpool. Preston. Inverness. Glasgow. Ayr. Stranraer. Larne. Belfast. Dublin. Oh, and Cairnryan (which is in Stranraer, and where the ferries to Larne depart from nowadays). In the space of four days.
To the naked eye it might appear a crazy schedule. But one advantage I had is that I knew it was possible. Because Inga had done it, or most of it anyway, and she would have completed it had she been able to. At the outset the thing I was most concerned about was what I felt was a very strong possibility that I would miss at least one of the vital train connections along the way, and that this would screw up my plans, and would see me arrive late back in Dublin, where I had to be back to start a work shift in the suburbs of the city on the Saturday afternoon. My biggest flaw is unpunctuality, something that I have to work at constantly to be better at. Part of the reason for it is my incurable positivity, and thinking I can overcome ludicrous odds to get anywhere at any time. And because I’ve been proved right about that on so many occasions, against all odds, I tend to pack too much into a day, and leave myself with too much to do before I have to be somewhere else. Anyway, I’m working on it but I suspect it’s going to be a lifelong grapple. But in the context of this backpacking trip that was going to involve a huge amount of train journeys, not to mention a ferry crossing, in a relatively short timeframe, I felt I was possibly biting off more than I could chew. I thought there was a good chance I would get stranded in Scotland, or Northern Ireland, and be a no-show at work and possibly get the sack. But I’ve never allowed reality to get in the way of a dream, so I basically decided to sod the consequences and hit the open road.
In doing so I would gain the necessary insight to be able to describe Inga’s movements in the detail I want to be able to in the course of writing the first book about her life and the case. Because I couldn’t rely on received wisdom. Well, I could but I didn’t want to. I thought I’d be short-changing people if I wrote the book and said, “Maybe…” such-and-such, or “Perhaps it was like…” such-and-such. Whilst I obviously wouldn’t be able to return to 1988, and would have to do it in the present day, I would discover that in actual fact, not much had changed since 1988 in many of the places Inga had been in, certainly less than I was expecting. Basically, to quote a half-malapropism of Brian Clough during his infamously ill-fated spell in charge of Leeds United, “I wanted to see with my own eyes and ears”.
Speaking of Bob Dylan, he wrote a song once called ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’. In Dylan’s case it referred to his born-again Christianity. But in my case the cause I want to serve is Inga’s. John Dallat MLA has the exact same motivation, and he’s every bit as dogged and passionate as I am. And I now know that a great many people out there to one extent or another share that interest, many of whom are regular readers of this blog. It’s what I’ve decided to do with my life. Where it’s all going to end up, I don’t know. But to me that’s what life is all about. The journey. And it’s what the last week of Inga’s life was all about. Journeys. From the Hook of Holland to Harwich. From Stranraer to Larne. From Larne to Ballypatrick Forest. From a brave young life to an horrific death. And it could be said that that’s what her unsolved case is about. Journeys. From the past to the present. From invisibility to inspiration. From creation to destruction, and ultimately back to creativity via a strange kind of alchemy.
I should point out that this has nothing whatsoever to do with publicity. Before I left Dublin I only told a few relatives and a handful of close friends about my backpacking trip and the plans I had to retrace Inga’s footsteps, and nobody else. I posted nothing about it in advance on social media, and even when I did start posting about it on my Instagram and Facebook accounts at no point did I explain what I was actually doing, I just shared photos as I went along and left it up to my friends on Facebook to guess what I was doing and why. I was glad I did in the end, as the messages and supportive comments I got from friends (many of whom had by now twigged what I was in the process of trying to achieve) provided some solace over the four days and nights I spent travelling alone all over England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
However it never occurred to me to notify any press in advance. Perhaps I should have, it may have gained Inga’s case another bit of press coverage. But it never occurred to me until several days after I arrived home, and by then I thought it would be too late. Contrary to what a couple of idiots out there think, I have never been motivated by seeking press coverage. On the two occasions that I’ve been asked to appear on a BBC show in connection with Inga’s case, I’ve had hassle afterwards. This hasn’t happened with any of the regional press or print media that my work has been featured in, rather this has only happened after appearing on mainstream shows such as The Nolan Show or Spotlight. I have learned that this is just something that goes with the territory of mainstream media exposure. I have never sought mainstream media coverage, being as I am an indie/underground person at heart, but I’ve been approached to participate in these sorts of shows on occasion and if I think it’s something that can help Inga’s case then I’m willing to do it.
Press coverage is not my motivation for anything but apparently some people who have never had press coverage themselves perceive it as some sort of life-changing prize. On the contrary I’ve had press coverage in my native Republic of Ireland (completely unrelated to Inga) on and off for the past twenty years, and it has never made the blindest bit of difference to my life. It’s purely an illusion that it does, and too many people watching too many TV shows are I believe mistaken in regarding it as some sort of glamorous trophy. The reality is a horse of a different colour. Ironically I don’t even own a TV let alone watch any. Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I had zero expectations when I started this blog. I’d never met anyone in the South who had even heard of Inga’s case, so at that time it never occurred to me that anyone would share my passion and fascination for her case and her cause. It’s heartening that I’ve since been proved wrong in that respect, in the way people of all ages and backgrounds in all sorts of places around the world have responded.
Speaking of all sorts of places, so far over the course of The Keeley Chronicles I have taken the readers to Larne. To Belfast. To Ballypatrick Forest. To Stormont. And most recently, to Glasgow. But this…this backpacking trip, this Interrailing odyssey would mean delving deeper. And arguably darker. It would mean going to places – and I don’t just mean geographically – that would provide some of my stiffest challenges yet. There were certain places that in advance I expected I’d be very emotional at, but that turned out to not be the case. And then there were other places that I didn’t expect to be emotional at, where in fact I was, very much so in one particular place. And there were things I experienced during the course of my backpacking trip retracing Inga’s steps that I wouldn’t have expected in a million years. All that will be covered in later instalments.
Chapter 56: Planning the Trip
Ticket to Ride: The author’s Interrail pass. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
Every chance that I take
I take it on the road
David Bowie – ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’
Once I’d decided I had to do this, I set about making plans. As fate would have it, on the very week that I got the idea for retracing Inga’s steps, the bookstore where I work received a consignment of schoolbags from our warehouse. As soon as I clasped eyes on one it occurred to me that it would make an ideal backpack. In a further odd synchronicity, it was blue, and what’s more a very similar colour blue as the backpack Inga carried through the UK in 1988. So I bought that, and then bought a nice new diary to jot down all the details of the train connections I planned to make. In the diary I also planned to write an account of the trip, just for myself, to keep a record of things as they happened and as something I could store away and perhaps read through some years from now. Next I visited several travel websites, assessing routes to take and basically getting some sort of grasp of the UK rail network which, what with my being Irish and never having lived in the UK, I had little knowledge of.
Then I went to buy my Interrail ticket. Like Inga, I’d never been on a backpacking trip before this one. And had never travelled by Interrail either. So it was all new, and equal parts exciting and haunting. Those mixed feelings – excitement at seeing so many new and unfamiliar places, and haunted by the particular footsteps I was planning to retrace – was something which would intensify over the course of the trip, and would eventually threaten to engulf the trip altogether. This was something I sensed in advance and caused me to feel a certain amount of trepidation about. I knew the whole experience was going to be, for want of a better word, heavy. But I thought I would be pretty well prepared for that. I have lived the details of this case every day of the past three years. How much harder would it be to actually be in all of these places in the same sequence Inga was in them? I didn’t know the answer to that, but one particular leg of the trip gave me the creeps. And not the obvious ones at all. No, I wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned about Larne, or the ferry crossing. I wasn’t actually concerned about my safety anywhere. However on a purely emotional level there was one particular leg of the journey that struck me as being potentially overwhelming: the overnight train trip to Inverness. The thought of (what turned out to be) a twelve-hour train trip through the most remote outposts in the British Isles, chugging upwards over mountainous terrain into the highlands of Scotland in the small hours of the morning, on my own, reliving one of the last journeys made by Inga thirty years ago…Something about the thought of that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Next I purchased a flight to London and a ferry ticket to Larne from P&O, as Sealink the shipping operator that Inga sailed with in 1988 was some years ago taken over by Stena and Stena no longer run a passenger service to Larne. Then I booked in advance to stay a night in the youth hostel in Oxford. I’d be staying in a dormitory, which for a private person like I am wouldn’t be what I would normally choose, but I was determined to honour the spirit of Inga’s trip and follow it to the letter, as much as it was possible to do so. The way I see it, if I’m going to go all the way to Oxford in the course of retracing Inga’s footsteps in order to pay tribute to her, and as research for my book, then it would be a cop-out to book a room in a hotel or a B&B. I would stay in the same place she did, end-of. This was a spiritual mission, a personal pilgrimage, a special thing. I was going to do it right, or not at all.
It only occurred to me a couple of days before I went that I had nowhere in Belfast to stay, so I went online and found a hostel with a bed available. Again it would mean having to share a dorm with a bunch of strangers but that’s exactly what Inga was looking to do had she made it to Belfast.
Typically I left packing to the last minute, having spent the days before I left for the trip too busy to get around to it, and as a result by the time I finished packing it was 4.30am and there was no time to get any sleep, just enough time for a quick breakfast before leaving my flat at 4.45am to go catch the Aircoach to the airport.
And so I was on my way. To begin this mission. Unbeknownst to the handful of people on the Aircoach that morning, one of their fellow passengers was at the outset of an unprecedented travelling odyssey. That morning, as I set off into the drizzle of a Dublin dawn, I wasn’t sure if this crazy trip was going to be possible to navigate in the space of four days. But I needed to try, for the reasons outlined above.
Chapter 57: London
Through the Past, Darkly: A still image from the 1988 Crimewatch UK reconstruction of Inga’s case. The young woman who did a superb job depicting Inga in the documentary (and who bore a striking resemblance to her) is among the throngs of commuters featured here
And as the tide flows, the London snows will come
With her cemetery eyes that say
“Oh, how my dark star will rise”
Oh how the dark star will rise
And she will rise
Suede – ‘My Dark Star’
After arriving at Dublin airport and tackling the yawning formality of security checks, I boarded the plane and sat in my seat as the minutes ticked down towards departure. But the plane wasn’t going anywhere – due to weather conditions the flights remained grounded on the runway for 90 minutes. Eventually it took off and roughly an hour after that I landed in London, eager to commence my Interrail trip. Needless to say I couldn’t stop thinking of Inga. Imagining her excitement when she arrived in the UK for the first time. Seeing so many things in my mind’s eye.
Arriving in London in the early morning I made my way from Gatwick Airport onto the rail network and from there across the city to King’s Cross where I switched onto the London Underground. Having never used an Interrail ticket before, and having paid €233 including insurance for it, which to my mind is a lot of money but apparently not in comparison with what I’ve since found out is the ludicrous cost of rail travel throughout the UK I assumed that having an Interrail pass allowed me to travel on every train throughout the UK. I didn’t realise that the entire London Underground system was exempt from this! As a result I managed to unwittingly fluke my way onto the tube without a valid ticket in station after station! I had no idea. I got some strange looks from rail staff along the way, some of whom looked at my Interrail pass like it was the most bizarre thing they had ever seen in their life. After arriving at Blackfriars tube station, I went for a walk, thrilled to be in London. Much like Inga, I find it so exciting being abroad in new places, with the thrill of the new and the scent of adventure stirring the senses. The weather wasn’t great – it was windy and would later rain very heavily but just being on this mission felt intensely emotional in a way that is sort of indescribable. I wandered around London, watched a street musician play guitar (he’s there every day and he’s a very gifted guitarist so give him your coins if you pass him by!) and then went for lunch in some random place I walked past and had decided on the spur of the moment to visit. It was a very freewheeling day, my favourite kind. And from all I’ve learned about Inga as a person, her favourite kind as well.
The Guitar Man: Watching a street musician play in Blackfriars, London. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
Then unfortunately my phone died so I couldn’t take as many photos as I would have liked (which will be a recurring theme over the course of the blog posts covering this trip. My days in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were characterised by a near-constant running battle to try to find plug sockets in order to recharge my constantly-dying phone so I could take photos for this blog).
When I returned to Blackfriars station and again attempted to pass through the gate with my Interrail pass, the Thameslink staff member asked to examine my ticket. I confidently handed it over, but after he’d studied it from his mystified expression I thought “Here we go again…” At that point he said he’d have to show it to the station manager. He asked me to remain at the barrier, and off he went. Evidently the manager was unable to solve the mystery either, and so when he returned he told me his manager had never seen such a pass before and that I’d have to take the pass to have it stamped at some kiosk somewhere in the station. After I found the kiosk, it was shut. Great. When it finally opened, the passenger ahead of me in the queue took longer than the Second World War (or so it felt like). When at last I got to present my Interrail pass to the Thameslink rail staff member in the kiosk and told him that I’d been asked to have it stamped by him he looked even more confused than the other station staff. So rather than say that he didn’t know what to do with it he amusingly fudged the issue by humming and hawing and then stamping it with what I later discovered was a totally meaningless stamp! At the time I couldn’t understand why none of the railway staff seemed to recognise what I assumed was a standard Interrail pass, as I would’ve thought that they would see at least a few of these passes every day. “Maybe it’s because I bought it in Dublin, and it’s an Irish version?” I wondered. “Or perhaps Interrail passes have fallen out of fashion since 1988?” I thought, increasingly grasping at straws. What I didn’t know, and only learned later that evening, was that the reason none of the staff recognised it was because clearly no one else with an Interrail pass had ever mistakenly assumed it could be used on the Underground network!
Passing the afternoon train: Blackfriars tube station, London. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
Chapter 58: Leave the Capitol
Going Underground. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
Leave the capitol
Exit this Roman shell
Then you know you must leave the capitol
The Fall – ‘Leave The Capitol’
After exiting the byzantine netherworld of the underground network and spending some time exploring the Charing Cross area it began raining more and more heavily until it became a full-on torrential rainstorm. By this point it was now dark, and I realised it was time to leave the capital and head for where I hoped to stay for the night: Oxford. Where I had booked to stay in the youth hostel. Just as Inga had on the night she was there, April 4th 1988.
But London is so big, and its rail network so sprawling, that to get to Oxford from the part of London I was in would require going from Baron’s Court tube station to Earls Court on the Piccadilly Line before having to cross over onto the District and Circle Line and then take a tube to Paddington tube station before exiting the underground and leaving behind the quizzical looks from the staff at my Interrail ticket and following a short walk through Westminster, entering the mainline rail network at London Paddington from where I would catch the evening train to Oxford, passing through Slough and Reading en route.
Station to Station. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
It had been a whistle-stop blizzard of a day, and all on precisely zero sleep the night before, but I had never felt more alive, nor flooded with more energy, and purpose. But at the same time, a sad-eyed sense of melancholia was never far from my heart. I knew why I was here. Retracing her steps, thirty years on. The whole day was a case of grappling with very conflicting emotions. On the one hand, excitement at being in new and unfamiliar or unusual places. And doing so alone only heightened the sense of adventure, of having to live on my wits and relying on no one else as I attempted to navigate the complex maze of rail links and transport connections unique to London that is so unlike my native Dublin with its mere two railway lines by comparison (one of which goes towards Howth or Malahide, the other of which goes towards Bray or Greystones. That’s it!) But on the other hand, everywhere I went in London the air seemed to hang heavy with poignancy. All the more so because I was only here retracing Inga’s steps because she is unable to do so herself. Thirty years have passed since 1988, the world has changed in so many ways during that time, and yet… As the saying goes, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’. Justice in this case remains a frustratingly-elusive pursuit, for a number of years now it’s been in the PSNI’s words tantalisingly-close and it’s currently closer than ever before but still at the time of writing it remains one step beyond.
Destination Anywhere: Paddington Station, London. Photo: Keeley Moss ©2018
But as I stood in the vast expanse of Paddington station, where Inga had herself stood on a bright Spring day in 1988, blissfully-oblivious to the horror that hovered ever closer, I felt a combination of sorrow and hope flow through my bones. I’m not usually a particularly spiritual person, and perhaps my sleepless state was making me a tad more delirious than usual, but I had felt a feeling all day that as I mentioned earlier I found indescribable. I didn’t know what it meant, if anything. I’m still not sure, to be honest. I’ve followed my heart with this from day one all the way back when I first came across Inga’s case and was drawn to it like the fabled moth to a flame, and the subsequent odyssey has been as much of a journey of discovery for me as it has been for the readers of this blog. Where it’s going to end up, I don’t know. I hope, with justice for Inga, like we all do. But as I said earlier, if the last week of Inga’s life was all about journeys, and her incredibly-complex and remarkably-enduring unsolved case has been a journey in every sense, then this is a journey that needs a final destination.
But until then, let there be no doubt
There is a light that never goes out.
May 28th 1969 – April 6th 1988. Never forgotten.
Copyright: Keeley Moss ℗&©2019. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form without the permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Acknowledgements for Part 21
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For written by Hewson/Evans/Clayton/Mullen Jr. Published by Island Music Publishing © 1987
Always Crashing in the Same Car written by David Bowie. Published by Bewlay Bros. S.A.R.L. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Tintoretto Music © 1977
My Dark Star written by Anderson/Butler. Published by Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management © 1994
Leave The Capitol written by Smith/Hanley/Riley/Scanlon. Published by Fall Music Publishers Ltd., Cavalcade Music Ltd., BMG Rights Management © 1981