Belfast Telegraph

Man who drowned with nephew in Donegal boat tragedy lost his father at the same spot 39 years ago

By Leona O'Neill

A man who drowned in a boating tragedy near Malin Head in Donegal lost his father at the same spot almost four decades ago.

Gerry Doherty from Burt and his teenage nephew Thomas Weir (16), who lived in Londonderry, died when their 15ft boat capsized on Tuesday.

Mr Doherty's father drowned off Malin Head 39 years ago.

Thomas was originally from Dalkeith in Scotland, but had moved to Derry a year ago.

Another man with them, who had clung to a buoy, was rescued and taken to hospital.

It is believed that the three were on a family break in the area and left Malin pier in their vessel shortly after 9am.

It is understood that the boat got into difficulty at noon and capsized.

It is believed the trio were in the water for almost four hours before the alarm was raised.

The RNLI was alerted by holidaymakers along the shore, who heard calls for help and saw the group in the water.

Mr Doherty, who was in his 60s, was pronounced dead after being found on the shore.

Thomas died after being airlifted to Altnagelvin Hospital.

Carndonagh Sinn Fein councillor Albert Doherty, a friend of the family who had been at school with Gerry, said people were stunned.

"The community is shocked, saddened and aghast that another tragedy has visited the area and that the sea has taken two away from us, two who were visiting and enjoying the delights of the Inishowen Peninsula," he said.

"I visited the family this morning. They are in a deep sense of shock.

"We are all just in sympathy with the deceased's wife, family and friends and all our prayers and thoughts are with them.

"This is the second tragedy to visit the Doherty family.

"Gerry's father Paddy also drowned off Malin Head 39 years ago.

"A rogue wave washed Paddy off a rock and his remains were missing for close on two months.

"He was found off the Isle of Skye.

"This is another awful tragedy for the family.

"They have been through this before, it's just so tough on Gerry's wife and family and his brothers and sisters and the family of the young man."

He added: "I called to see his brother Patsy and he pulled out a picture of Gerry and his dad together and said that Gerry didn't die far from where his father Paddy died.

"It's very sad for them all and our hearts and prayers are with them all at this time.

"Gerry was a big man and always had a bit of fun.

"He was typical of our people who left for work to Australia and he also worked in London.

"He married a lovely Mayo woman, Marian, and they had two lovely daughters and also grandchildren."

Tributes also poured in last night for Thomas.

Friends, who called him 'Wee Tam', struggled to take in the news.

One said: "No one will ever compare to you mate.

"You were like a genuine wee brother. Take care and will see us all soon.

"You're now with your real brother again.

"Rest easy my boy."

Another wrote: "I can't believe this.

"What a sin to be taken at such a young age.

"Going to miss you wee man.

"Going to miss you being able to speak to us.

"Shine bright because everyone's going to miss you."

Last night Achill Tourism in Co Mayo announced that the Purteen Harbour Festival on Saturday and the RNLI Open Day on Sunday had been postponed to a later date as a mark of respect after the tragedy.

Mr Doherty's wife is from Achill Island and the family have strong connections to the region.

Garda Inspector Eugene McGovern confirmed that the boat had been recovered and it had been brought to a "safe place" so that it can be examined.

Belfast Telegraph

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