A man drowned and his nephew was still missing last night after their boat sank just one kilometre off shore in the latest in a litany of disasters to hit a tiny fishing community.
The body of Edward Doherty (65), of Ross Head, Glengad, was recovered from the sea near Glengad close to Malin Head in Co Donegal yesterday morning.
The search will resume at first light this morning for his nephew Robert McLaughlin (43) whose body is still missing after a search operation throughout yesterday in appalling weather conditions.
The men, both experienced fishermen, had left Portaleen pier early yesterday morning in The Jennifer, the 26-foot trawler skippered by Mr Doherty, to check lobster and crab pots around Glengad Head in the north Inishowen Peninsula.
Weather conditions were reported to be good at the time but deteriorated as the morning progressed when a gale warning was issued and heavy swells and poor visibility hindered search efforts.
RNLI Lifeboat crews from Lough Swilly and Portrush, assisted by the Coastguard helicopter and local fishing vessels, located the missing boat in approximately 30 metres of water.
The boat was towed ashore last night for further examination.
Throughout the day relatives and friends gathered on Portaleen pier.
A distraught Billy Farren, a next-door neighbour and first cousin of Eddie Doherty, said: “You wouldn't get anyone more experienced than Eddie. He was fishing for years and years. He was one of the top skippers in Inishowen.
“Robert was fishing all his life too. They were just making a living. There have been so many tragedies here but you never get used to it.”
Mr Doherty is survived by his wife, two sons and five daughters.
His nephew Robert McLaughlin, one of a large family, is single and lives close by with his mother Mary, a sister of Mr Doherty. Local senator Cecilia Keaveney, who knew the missing men, said the community was devastated.
“They were two generations of fundamental people in this community and are an awful loss not just to their immediate families but to the community at large,” she said.
Local Fine Gael councillor Bernard McGuinness said that the men were experienced fishermen doing what they loved. “Normally Eddie would be in for the winter by now but because of the economic circumstances, fishermen are spending longer out at sea,” he said.