Detectives now involved in a major murder investigation face a difficult task tracking down the killers - not least because first they have to identity the man, then identify the scene of the murder.
The two canals that cut through south and north Dublin have been used before as a dumping ground for bodies, most notoriously for that of Romanian Adrian Bestea.
There are some similarities between the Bestea case and the most recent murder. The 21-year-old was beaten to death at a house in Sandymount, his remains were stuffed in a suitcase, which was then dumped in the Royal Canal.
Gardaí were initially unable to identify Mr Bestea and were forced to publish a photograph of the dead man’s badly bloated face and his clothes. He was identified and thereafter the investigation progressed rapidly, ending with three people, two men and a woman, convicted in connection with his death.
On Wednesday evening, a man on an early evening stroll along the bank of the Royal Canal near Croke Park spotted what looked like parts of a man’s body in the murky water.
Gardaí, along with an ambulance crew and fire tenders, were called and a patrol sent from nearby Fitzgibbon Street to investigate the find.
It took only seconds for the patrol to agree that what was in the water was deeply suspicious.
The area was sealed off and an initial search confirmed those suspicions.
Members of the Garda Technical Bureau and its Water Unit arrived at daybreak to begin the task of looking for the various body parts, including the head, of what turned out to be the remains of a white, adult male.
They were still at the scene yesterday. By that point various parts were recovered and the remains were removed to the city morgue where a post-mortem examination was carried out by the Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis.
The search for other parts of the body continued into the afternoon. Most of the remains were found at two locations 100 yards apart close to Ballybough Bridge just behind Croke Park. They were wrapped in material, possibly plastic.
Locals living close to the crime scene believe the body must have been dumped within 24 hours of it being discovered.
The canal, particularly near the bridge where the remains were found, is constantly being used, particularly by children.
One local woman described how she came on the scene as the man who spotted the body part was phoning the gardaí. She recalled seeing parts of a body wrapped in what she thought was a plastic covering.
“It was there for everyone to see,” she said.
The investigation, led by a team of detectives based in Fitzgibbon Street, is likely to be a difficult one. Crucially, the body has to be identified first but the team also want to find out where the murder happened.
The dead man was murdered elsewhere, his body cut up and the parts wrapped in material. They were then transported to the canal and dumped.
Forensic experts said early identification depended on how long the parts were in the water and on whether the gardaí have DNA of the person on file, as is likely if that person has been reported missing.
However, while records of missing people are being checked, senior gardaí also asked that anyone concerned for the welfare of a person who has not been seen for some days to come forward.