Two fishermen who drowned today after being swept from their traditional currach boat into the Atlantic Ocean had each lost brothers in similar tragedies.
The pair, named locally as Fechin Mulkerrin and Tony Coohill, were checking on lobster pots off Aughrus Point, near Cleggan, Connemara, Co. Galway, when it is believed they fell overboard.
Both men, who lived in nearby Claddaghduff and were married with children, were understood to have each lost a brother to the sea in recent years.
They set off from a small pier at the Aughrus Point headland at about 8.30am this morning in what are believed to have been good conditions.
The part-time fishermen were checking lobster pots in their currach, a traditional open wooden-framed vessel still widely used in parts of the West, particularly for fishing close to the rocky Atlantic shore.
Another local fisherman raised the alarm when he came across the overturned boat at around 11am.
The Coast Guard at Malin Head tasked lifeboats from nearby Clifden and helicopters from Shannon Airport and Sligo to the scene, while an Air Corps aircraft on fisheries patrol was diverted to the rescue operation.
About 15 fishing and passenger boats which were in the area also joined the huge search.
Both bodies were recovered within a couple of hundred yards of each other about a mile west of Omey Island, and one mile south from where their boat was discovered.
Dara O’Malley-Daly, watch officer at Malin Head Coast Guard station, said conditions were good in the morning and there was no initial indications as to what caused the boat to overturn.
The currach, which has been brought ashore, showed some sign of damage and will be examined by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, he said.
Malachy King, of the Strand Bar in the small fishing village of Claddaghduff, said the community was in a state of shock at the fishing tragedy.
“They only started fishing last week for the season, I think the currach was new,” he said.
“Tony Coohill had a wife and two young children, one I think only about six months, while Fechin Mulkerrin had grown up children and grandchildren.
“I think they only joined forces this season.”
Locals said Mr Coohill worked in construction in England for years and moved to Dublin for a while before returning to Claddaghduff in the past couple of years.
Both Mr King and local priest Fr Tony Neville of Star of the Sea Church, in Claddaghduff, said the families of both men have been devastated in the past by similar tragedies.
“Tony Coohill had a brother who was lost at sea and Fechin Mulkerrin had a brother lost at sea as well, going back years now,” said Mr King.