Investigations begin into four deaths at sea within 36 hours this week
THE MARINE Casualty Investigation Board has begun three separate inquiries into four drownings which occurred within 36 hours this week off the west and south-west coasts.
In the latest incident, the body of a Co Mayo fisherman was recovered from the sea off Clare Island late on Tuesday night by fishermen and taken to shore by the RNLI Achill lifeboat after a search of less than two hours.
The fisherman has been named as Martin Burns (51), a father of three from Clare Island. Mr Burns had left to check pots off the island on Tuesday in reasonable weather: a force three southeasterly wind.
Malin Head Coast Guard confirmed the alert was raised just after 7.30pm, when a relative reported that his currach was overdue. The Coast Guard then deployed the Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard search-and-rescue helicopter, Achill RNLI and Achill Coast Guard.
Local fishing boats responded to the alert, and found the man’s body just after 9.30pm. A postmortem was carried out yesterday at Mayo General Hospital.
Mr Burns, who is survived by his wife Nora and children Brendan, Michelle and Mary, is due to be buried on the island tomorrow.
In Clare, the sons and daughter of fishermen Michael Galvin (64), who drowned with his neighbour and friend Noel Dickinson (in his 30s) off Spanish Point on Monday, have arrived back from Australia.
The bodies of the two men were recovered from the wheelhouse of their 8m (26ft) boat, Lady Eileen, on Tuesday. No alert was raised before the sinking; like Mr Burns, both men had been checking pots before the severe weather alert forecast for mid-week.
Mr Galvin’s wife, Liz, was comforted by members of her extended family while her sons, Aidan and Brian, and daughter Michelle travelled home.
Mr Dickinson is survived by his partner Helen, who is expecting their first child, and parents Larry and Mary, sisters Annemarie and Frances, and brother Alan.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board is investigating this incident, and has opened a separate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of John O’Leary (58), a father of three from Barness, Allihies, Co Cork.
Mr O’Leary was sailing with his son Christy Beatty O’Leary (18) when their 5m dinghy reportedly capsized about 200m off Cod’s Head between Allihies and Eyries on the Beara Peninsula at about 4pm on Monday.
They clung to the upturned boat for four hours before attempting to swim ashore. The son managed to reach shore and raise the alarm.
Valentia Coast Guard co-ordinated the rescue involving the RNLI Castletownbere lifeboat, the Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky helicopter from Shannon and the Derrynane inshore lifeboat.
The Derrynane lifeboat recovered Mr O’Leary’s body from a rock at about 1.10am on Tuesday. The dinghy was retrieved by the Irish Coast Guard and handed over to investigation board officials.
Mr O’Leary, who was born in Boston, was involved in arts activities in west Cork and was a founder member of the Beara Writing Experience group.
His body will repose at home in Allihies today. There will be a private cremation service tomorrow.