Drowned fisherman remembered at funeral as ‘gentle giant’ and devoted family man

Father of four Joe Sinnott (65), who died off Hook Head, was ‘doing something he loved’

The close-knit Co Wexford fishing community of Kilmore Quay rallied together on Wednesday as they bid a fond farewell to local man and "gentle giant" Joe Sinnott (65), who was drowned off Hook Head late on Saturday night.

Locals lined the roads of the village as the funeral cortege passed, in the latest tragedy to strike this sea-faring community.

As people offered condolences to his wife Mary, and children Michael, Siobhán, Bernie and Bridget, thoughts and prayers were also offered for the family of his close friend Willie Whelan (41) for whom the search is ongoing off the Wexford coast.

Speaking from the altar, Michael recalled the bond the fishermen enjoyed and his hopes that Willie would be returned to his family.


“It’s been a tough few days,” Michael told mourners. “But I know where he (Joe) is today. He’s out there with the boys searching. Please God, he’ll be able to bring Willie home to us. The bond that the two boys had was just unreal. It was like a link of chain that you couldn’t part.”

Fr David Murphy offered prayers for the Whelan family and those searching the coast in the hopes of finding Mr Whelan.

“Today we keep in mind and in our prayers at our mass, all of Willie Whelan’s family at this very difficult and sad time for them,” he said. Fr Murphy said Mr Sinnott was “born to fish and died doing what he loved”.

Fr Murphy said that while “Joe was looking forward to getting the pension in June of this year, he wasn’t looking forward to retiring. I’m sure he would’ve continued on for many years at the fishing”.

‘Gentle giant’

His nephew Sean Boyce spoke of a man who was well loved by his entire family. "Seeing him always brought a smile to our face,' he said. "Joe was our gentle giant who was rarely, if ever, in bad form. He was completely devoted to Mary, Siobhán, Bernie and Bridget and in Joe, Michael not only had a fantastic Dad, but a best friend."

Despite the tragic circumstances of the father of four’s passing, his family were firm in their belief that he died doing what he loved. “Joe died doing something he absolutely loved,” Mr Boyce said. “We all know the only place he wanted to be, other than at home with Mary, was at sea.”

Sean finished with a poem for his late uncle:

“You went out to sea to earn your crust,

Drown we may, but go we must,

You’ve left us now and although you’ve gone,

In our memories, you’ll live on.

On the sea of life, you’ve happily sailed

And not one of us have you ever failed,

A new course now, a new patch of ground,

We know you won’t rest until Willie is found.”

As Joe’s remains were carried from the church and laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard, vessels in the harbour sounded a blast of their horns; one final salute to one of their own, cruelly taken by the sea.