Friday 20 January 2017

Drowning of two sisters was 'a tragic accident'

Patrick Flynn and Maeve Sheehan

Published 20/03/2011 | 05:00

GARDAI suspect that two women -- believed to be sisters -- whose bodies were discovered on a beach in Co Clare on Friday were the victims of a tragic accident.

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The women had travelled with their dog from their home in Waterford to the west coast and had been touring the scenic Clare coast for several days before the tragedy occurred.

Their bodies were discovered on the beach at around 10.30am on Friday at White Strand near Miltown Malbay.

A passer-by found them close to a slipway and lying parallel to the shoreline, about 10 feet apart. They were fully clothed but wet when they were found.

Their British-registered green Citroen was parked nearby. The car doors were closed but unlocked and the keys were still in the ignition.

Their dog was still inside the car and some dog nuts had been left in a container for him on the back seat. Sports bags filled with the women's clothes and other belongings were on the back seat and in the boot. Their handbags, phones and passports were only later discovered, delaying efforts to identify them.

Gardai have ascertained the identities of the women, who moved to Ireland from Wales in December. They have dismissed suspicious circumstances or foul play surrounding their deaths, though officers are still investigating the cause of the accident.

The tide was out at the time their bodies were discovered but the seas were rough. Detectives suspect that one of the women either fell or was struck by a freak wave while walking the beach or standing on the slipway and the other went to her aid.

The last high tide on this stretch of coastline was at around 3am on Friday, which raises the possibility that the women could have died late on Thursday night. Gardai and members of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard have set up a cordon around the area. The ISPCA's dog warden in Clare removed the animal to a dog pound in Ennis.

Gardai were last night trying to contact the women's sister in the UK, and their landlord in Waterford.

Garda Superintendent Colm O'Sullivan said: "We have also had a lot of calls from members of the public who observed the green Citroen car at several well-known beauty spots in the area so it is clear to us that the women were touring the local area.

"We are still trying to establish where the women stayed while in Clare and would still appeal to hotel and guest house owners to contact us if they remember two women travelling in a green Citroen Xsara car with the registration T289 JVP. The gardai at Ennistymon can be contacted on 065 7072180."

Sunday Independent

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