A woman at the centre of a worldwide police appeal after being found in Ireland confused and virtually unable to communicate has been identified.

The blonde woman, who spoke little English since being found in Dublin city almost a month ago, is believed to be from Australia and in her early 20s.

One line of inquiry being examined is that she was in Ireland to visit relatives and her last known whereabouts was when she left them, saying she would travel around the country.

It is understood a relative called to a Garda station in Dublin city today after seeing a photograph issued in the appeal. A passport is believed to have confirmed her identity.

In a statement last night, gardaí said that following the assistance of the public, they were now following a definite line of inquiry.

“Gardaí wish to sincerely thank the public and the media for their assistance. They also wish to inform them that no further assistance is required at this time,” they said.

It was initially thought the girl was aged only 14 or 15 and European.

The photograph of her was released worldwide from mid-morning yesterday and within 10 hours detectives revealed they had identified her and were liaising with police in Australia.

The unprecedented step to release the picture was given the go-ahead after gardaí went to the High Court in Dublin and explained several weeks of investigation and 115 separate lines of inquiry turned up no leads.

Lawyers who successfully argued for the photo to be released said it was extraordinary circumstances after the investigation “hit a brick wall”.

Officers had been unable to get any substantive information from the woman over a period of weeks and she communicated on a number of occasions by drawing.

It is believed a further court hearing will take place following her identification to determine how the investigation will proceed and how the woman will be cared for in the interim.

She was found on Dublin’s O’Connell Street in a distressed state by gardaí on a routine afternoon patrol on October 10.

She was wearing a purple hooded top, tight dark-coloured jeans, flat black shoes and a grey woollen jumper when found.

It is believed the clothes were bought in major Irish retailers but detectives could not determine when they were purchased.

She is in care with Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).

“(We) will be liaising closely with the Australian police and the HSE to finalise the matter,” Irish police said.

The girl is described as being 5ft 6in and slim with long blonde hair.

The photograph was circulated worldwide from mid-morning yesterday after an appeal through the media.

Superintendent Dave Taylor confirmed the girl drew some sketches in an attempt to communicate her ordeal, but investigators have no hard evidence as to what happened her.

“This investigation has involved over 2,000 hours, engaging with all the relevant authorities and all the relevant specialists in this area,” he said.

The girl also has a brace but paediatric orthodontists contacted in Ireland were unable to shed any light on her identity through their records.

A dedicated telephone line and email address was manned throughout the day to allow any information from the public to help with the inquiry.

The investigation team contacted Interpol, the missing persons bureau, the forensic science laboratory, the domestic violence and sexual assault unit and national immigration authorities.

They also trawled city centre CCTV footage, contacted social services and homeless shelters, bed and breakfasts, hostels as well as airports and ports throughout the country.

Detectives initially came up with 15 possible names for their girl through their inquiries but they were “fully checked” and led nowhere.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed it received a request for assistance from Irish authorities through Interpol.

“The AFP, in conjunction with appropriate state police forces, are assisting Irish authorities with this request,” said a spokesman.

“As this matter is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment any further.”