The annual remembrance gathering for missing Kilkenny woman, JoJo Dullard will be held on Sunday, November 9th.
The annual gathering will take place at the missing persons' monument in Castle Park.
Fr Willie Purcell, a family friend who, with the Kilkenny Gospel Choir, will lead the gathering for Ms Dullard said: "It’s important to keep JoJo’s memory alive in our hearts and our prayers.”
The 21-year-old went missing 26 years ago after she was last seen at approximately 11.37pm on November 9th, 1995 when she left the village of Moone, Co Kildare while trying to make her way home to Callan, Co Kilkenny.
Fr Purcell said support needs to be shown to the families of the women who have disappeared. His remarks come after a search operation initiated in Co Kildare drew to a close last week with “no significant” findings discovered.
It was hoped a lead could help in the case of Ms Dullard's disappearance, in addition to the case of missing Kildare trainee teacher, Deirdre Jacob. Ms Jacob disappeared in July 1998 as she made her way towards her home in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Kathleen Bergin Ms Dulard’s sister added: "We appreciate very much all the support and prayers for JoJo and for our family."
Every year on her anniversary, family, friends, relatives, and neighbours gather at the monument to remember JoJo and to hope and pray for information regarding her disappearance.
Last year, Gardaí upgraded the investigation into her disappearance to a murder probe and recently renewed their appeal for information. Ms Jacob's disappearance was upgraded to murder in 2018.
A large scale search of Usk Little, on the Kildare/Wicklow border, was investigated by Gardaí in recent weeks, but on Tuesday officers confirmed the search of the woodland site, which started on October 11th, has now been completed and nothing of evidential value to the investigations was recovered.
Gardaí added the families are being updated on the progress of the investigations.
Sometimes we forget how important it is to support JoJo’s family and all the families of missing persons
Fr Purcell said such investigations can take their toll on the families involved: “It is really such a difficult trying time. And we all get one with our lives and we all have lives to live, we all have different things to do.
“Sometimes we remember, sometimes we forget how important it is to support JoJo’s family and all the families of missing persons - to keep that spirit of hope alive because for all of us, that’s all we have,” he said on local radio station KCLRfm.
Retired garda detective Alan Bailey who was involved in Operation Trace, which was established to investigate the disappearance of several women including Ms Dullard and Ms Jacob, told KCLRfm that when these type of investigations do not work out “it is a downer for the families”.
“It is devastating news for the families, but it’s amazing this (search) will regenerate interest in these cases and we just don’t know what will turn up from it. All of a sudden they are back in prominence. Some niggling thing that may have been bothering someone is what Gardaí are looking for.
“The important thing with cold cases is that we are looking at them again with independent eyes and it is not a criticism. It’s very disappointing for the families because they have all of these false dawns and my heart would go out to them.”
Mr Bailey added that he believes whoever was responsible for the disappearance “has shared it” recently.
Mr Bailey, who worked on Operation Trace for 13 years and wrote the book 'Missing Presumed', said all it takes is for "someone out there is to say enough is enough and break ranks" and give Gardaí information so the chapter can be closed for the families.
He said Ms Dullard's family have done “Trojan work” in keeping their sister’s disappearance in the public’s conscience.
“If nothing else the current search keeps what happened to Ms Dullard and Ms Jacob in people’s minds,” he added.