Drowned fisherman was not wearing lifejacket

A young lobster fisherman who died off the coast of Cork was not wearing a lifejacket, it emerged today.

A young lobster fisherman who died off the coast of Cork was not wearing a lifejacket, it emerged today.

Pat O’Callaghan, from Schull, went missing on April 20 last year after leaving the harbour in his one-man boat at 8am.

His wife raised the alarm after she failed to contact him on his mobile phone and his boat, the 6.25 metre-long Blanche Eileen, was found later that evening on the rocks off East Calf Island.

The badly decomposed body of the young fisherman was washed up three weeks later at Crookhaven.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report said Mr O’Callaghan was not wearing a lifejacket when he entered the water.

It recommended that a lifejacket should be worn at all times and that the "hazardous" single-handed operation of fishing boats should be avoided if at all possible.

Mr O’Callaghan, who has a one-year old child with his wife Deirdre, had a certificate of competency and his boat was fully licenced and in good condition.

When he left Schull Harbour in the morning, he passed another fisherman, John Joe Sullivan, who had decided to return to port due to the weather conditions.

“A shouted conversation took place between the two men but Mr Sullivan could not understand what Mr O’Callaghan was saying over the noise of the boat engines and the sea,” the report said.

Mr O’Callaghan was last sighted by another fisherman at 12.45pm, sailing east.

However, the report was unable to determine the exact cause of his death.

It found it was possible that Mr O’Callaghan became entangled in his last string of lobster pots, and was dragged over the side of the Blanche Eileen.

It was also possible that he lost his balance and fell over the side of the boat.

Mr O’Callaghan’s family were adamant that he did not fish in the area around Calf Island, where the boat was found.

All of his lobster pots were recovered near Goat Island, his preferred fishing grounds.

The report said it presumed the Blanche Eileen continued unmanned after Mr O’Callaghan had entered the water and was driven into the inlet at Calf Island, where it was eventually broken up by the gales that followed.

A inquest into Mr O’Callaghan’s death in West Cork last March returned a verdict of accidental death.

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