Sailor dies in tragic accident at Schull


GARDAÍ ARE treating the death of a 34-year-old member of the Naval Service who fell in to the sea at Schull, west Cork, in the early hours of yesterday morning as a tragic accident.

Father of five, Robert O’Keeffe, a native of Fermoy, Co Cork, but living in Doneraile in north Cork, was among a number of sailors on shore leave from the LE Aisling in the west Cork town on Saturday night.

The LE Aisling had been on routine fishery patrol duty off the southwest coast on Saturday.

When the Naval Service personnel returned to the LE Aisling shortly after 2.30am yesterday, it was discovered that the sailor was not on board. The alarm was raised when Mr O’Keeffe failed to return at the agreed hour.

The sailors returned to Schull where the body of the leading seaman was found in the water by the quayside.

Members of the Naval Service recovered the body and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

His remains were brought to Bantry General Hospital. His body has since been taken to Cork University Hospital where a full post-mortem was due to take place yesterday.

A spokesman for the Naval Service described the death as a “tragic accident.” The death will be investigated by gardaí and by Naval Service military police. It will also be the subject of a Naval Service investigation.

Gardaí have examined the scene and are also treating the death as an accident.

Mr O’Keeffe lived in Doneraile with his partner and five children.

It is understood that members of the Naval Service initially believed that Mr O’Keeffe was probably waiting to be collected by the quayside. However, his body was later discovered floating in the water.

Prayers were offered at Masses in north and west Cork yesterday in his memory.

The LE Aisling’s home port is in Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour. Members of the Naval Service are expected to provide a guard of honour at Mr O’Keeffe’s funeral.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised.

Mr O’Keeffe is survived by his partner Máire. A requiem Mass is expected to take place later this week.