A DOCTOR in Britain has traced the family of his Irish birth father, who died shortly before they had a chance to meet.
Paediatrician Dr Ben Stevens, aged 36 from Hertfordshire, started hunting for his father Gerry Monaghan six years ago, only to discover he had died the previous year in a suspected hit-and-run.
Sadly, only seven people attended the Donegal native’s funeral, which took place just 20 minutes from Dr Stevens’ home.
Dr Stevens then suffered a further blow when his father’s partner Heather – with whom he developed a friendship as she told him about his father – passed away six months later.
Now however, just days after appealing for information on his father’s family through the Irish Independent website, Dr Stevens has spoken to two of his father’s sisters – and learnt that his grandmother is alive and well.
“"I have spoken to my two aunts Geraldine and Martina,” Dr Stevens told the Irish Independent. ‘I'm very happy talking to everybody. I think they were very much in shock.
"I think they were very happy that I turned out okay and they were excited that I actually existed.”
He added: "I haven't had a chance to think about my first cousins yet. I would especially like to go over and meet my grandmother.
"I will try to get over in the next few months. They seem like very nice people.
"I am fascinated to know more about my birth father. I would like to know about where he grew up and my family."
Dr Stevens was adopted into a loving family at the age of five, after being left at a London hospital by his birth mother as a baby.
While searching for his father he also made contact with his birth mother but she cut off contact after one meeting.
He also struggled to find information on his paternal family, with his father having lost touch with home amid a long struggle with alcohol addiction.
However Dr Stevens’ aunt Geraldine contacted the Irish Independent within a day of his appeal, revealing her shock as she didn’t know her brother had died.
This is such a huge shock for us,” said Geraldine Monaghan. “It is bittersweet to learn of Gerard's death and then to learn that I had a nephew that I wasn't aware of."
Dr Stevens is now planning a trip to Ireland to see his family and to bring his father’s ashes to Donegal.