In 2020, David McBride and Helen Ward were reunited on the ITV series Long Lost Family when they were both in their 50s.
In an incredible story of a family reunited, three siblings grew up in adopted families, never having any birth records or known parents to track where they came from.
Amazingly, after the episode of Long Lost Family aired that saw David and Helen reunited, they discovered that they had another brother, called John, also in his 50s.
The three were all reunited on ITV’s follow-up, Long Lost Family: What Happens Next.
Three Irish siblings reunited after 50 years – an incredible reunion
This is one of the most incredible cases of a family reunited that Ireland has ever seen. All three siblings were abandoned as children and found in the same way in different parts of the country.
In 1962, David was discovered in a red tartan duffel bag in the driveway of a house in Belfast. Six years later, in 1968, Helen was found in the same way but in a phone box near a hospital in Dundalk. The bottle placed next to her at the time was still warm.
It turned out that three years before Helen was found, the third sibling, John, was found wrapped in a blue blanket in a telephone box, this time in Drogheda, in 1965 by journalist Paul Murphy.
The show revealed that the reason John realised his potential relation to Helen and David was because his daughter noticed a striking resemblance between them.
Their birth parents – they were able to track down who they were
The team on Long Lost Family managed to trace their birth parents. They discovered that their father was a married man who had 14 children; it seemed that he was in a secret relationship with their mother up until his death.
Unfortunately, the siblings never got a chance to meet their birth parents as their father, a shop manager from Dublin, died in 1993 at the age of 83, and their mother passed away in 2017 at the age of 90.
Their relationship was a contentious one as their father was a married Protestant man and their mother a much younger Catholic at a time of serious sectarian divide.
Helen said of their birth mum, “Our mum lived until her 90s. We’ve seen DVD footage of her; some of it is very sad as she had a little girl doll she would never let go of”.
David added, “I said to Helen I had a feeling that is her memories of her, she was holding on and maybe later in life was trying to put together what had happened”.
The three have led happy lives – everything worked out the way it did for a reason
David said of the lives the three have gone on to lead, their birth mother “made her choices, and they turned out alright for us. I’ve had a great life, I have a wonderful family, I now have a wonderful sister and brother.
“I’ve got two sisters and a brother in the north, and I’ve got step-siblings as well. At the end of the day, she made a decision, and that decision turned out right for us”.
Helen described them as lucky, saying, “I think the three of us feel the lives we’ve led and the families we were adopted into are amazing”.