Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Tests due on boat tragedy brothers

Sinn Fein Councillor Pat Fitzgerald said three men who died in a fishing accident were experienced sea-goers

Post-mortems are to be carried out on the bodies of three brothers who drowned when their fishing vessel overturned at sea.

The tragedy unfolded off the south west coast of Ireland when the men's 18 foot punt did not return to Dunmore, Co Waterford, on Wednesday evening.

The three, named locally as Paul, Shane and Kenny Bolger, have been remembered as hard-working and decent men who will be sorely missed. All were aged in their 40s and originally from Passage East and two, Paul and Shane, were married with children.

Sinn Fein Councillor Pat Fitzgerald, whose wife is a cousin of the men, said all three were experienced seamen who had fished since they were young boys. "It's a mystery as to what happened," he said.

The alarm was raised at around 5.30pm when the 18 foot vessel, which had left about 9am to haul lobster pots, did not return to Dunmore East. It had last been seen at midday about half a mile south of Brownstown Head, between Tramore Bay and Dunmore East.

The stricken vessel was spotted semi-submerged in the water by the Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter and all three bodies were recovered.

The drownings have numbed the local communities, which have suffered several fishing tragedies in recent years.

Five men were lost at sea when the Pere Charles trawler sank off the south east coast in January 2007 in stormy weather. Skipper Tom Hennessy, 32, his uncle Pat Hennessy, 48, Billy O'Connor, 50, Pat Coady, 27, and 32-year-old Andriy Dyrin from the Ukraine died when the trawler went down two miles from Hook Head. Their bodies were never recovered.

Six years to the day fisherman Johnny Flynn, 43, from Dunmore East, died after his boat capsized off Brownstown. And the body of father-of-four John Ennis from Ballyhack, Co Wexford, was recovered more than a month after he went missing at sea in February 2011.

Dunmore East RNLI Coxswain Michael Griffin said the men's deaths were a devastating loss for the community. He said: "I knew the men personally and had been at school with two of them. They were well known and respected by everyone."

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