Man and daughter found dead off Cork

Garda near a farmhouse in Ballydehob, Co Cork from where a father and daugher were reported missing. The bodies of the man and three-year-old girl were taken from the sea off west Cork this morning. Photograph: Michael McSweeney/Provision

Garda near a farmhouse in Ballydehob, Co Cork from where a father and daugher were reported missing. The bodies of the man and three-year-old girl were taken from the sea off west Cork this morning. Photograph: Michael McSweeney/Provision

Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 00:00

Neighbours in Ballydehob reacted with shock and devastation this morning following the deaths of a local farmer and his young daughter in west Cork overnight.

Gardaí have begun an investigation following the recovery of the bodies of a 50-year-old man and a three-year-old girl from the sea off West Cork in the early hours of this morning.

The narrow bothareen leading to the family's isolated farmhouse overlooking the water remained cordoned off this morning.

"We just can't imagine what was going on at the time, it's mind boggling. I can't put words to it," neighbour Leslie Swanton said.

Neighbours said the farmer suffered with high blood pressure and visited Cork University Hospital regularly over the past six months.

The farmer, described as hard working and dedicated, tended cattle in various plots of land around the Audley Cove area.

"He was a mighty worker altogether. You would always see him coming and going over the road with the cattle. I had not seen him in about a week though, which I thought was unusual," former schoolmate and neighbour John O'Brien said.

The couple married several years ago. It's understood the girl's mother was a teenager when she first arrived in Ballydehob from the US about 15 years ago.

Following their wedding, the pair shared the man's family farmhouse at Audley Cove.

Community Council chairman Martin Swanton said the entire area is in shock.

"No one understands why it happened, he was a local man that came from a lovely family. We don't know anymore than that, its inexplicable," he said.

The alarm was raised by the man's wife at about 8pm last night.

Gardaí went to a farm at Foilnamuck near Ballydehob and searched the farmland and surrounding area. The coastline was searched by the Valentia Coastguard.

The body of the girl was located along the shoreline shortly before 2am. The body of her father was discovered a short time later in the water nearby. The girl's mother was involved in the search and she was present at the scene when the child's body was recovered.

The man and his daughter were pronounced dead at the scene.

They were removed to University Hospital Cork where Dr Margaret Bolster of the State Pathologist's Office has begun a postmortem.