Monday 27 February 2017

Father of four feared dead as trawler sinks

Brendan Furlong and Grainne Cunningham

A FATHER of four was feared drowned yesterday after a small trawler sank off the southeast coast.

John Ennis (64), a lifelong fisherman from Ballyhack, New Ross, Co Wexford, is believed to have lost his life after the 35ft fishing boat capsized just 15 minutes after setting out to sea close to Arthurstown in the Waterford Estuary.

The boat, Na Buachailli, was skippered by Richard McNamara and the two men had been planning to fish for mussels when tragedy struck.

Mr McNamara managed to swim ashore where he raised the alarm. He was treated for hypothermia and shock, after spending up to 20 minutes in the water.

Despite an extensive search and rescue operation yesterday, no trace of Mr Ennis had been found by nightfall yesterday.

A team of Navy divers is due to assist in the search early today.

One observer described how the boat disappeared. "One minute, I was looking at the boat. I turned around and within minutes on turning back to look out to sea again, the boat had disappeared. I raced to see if it had gone around the corner, but there was no sighting. I immediately raised the alarm."

The boat left the pier at Arthurstown about 11.30am for the mussel fishing grounds. Mr McNamara, who is in his mid-30s, swam ashore.

Mr Ennis, who celebrated his 64th birthday on December 30, is married to Mai and father of four daughters, Martina, Ann, Aisling and Paula. Mr McNamara and his wife Jacinta have nine children.

Family

Mr Ennis' brother, Peter, spent the afternoon on the pier but was unable to speak of the tragedy. Other family members drove down to the port but left after a few minutes.

Locals who gathered on the wet and windswept seashore were clearly shocked at the tragedy which had struck the close-knit fishing community.

The Coastguard S-61 search and rescue helicopter from Waterford Airport hovered overhead, searching for the missing man throughout the afternoon. It was aided by lifeboats from Fethard-on-Sea and Dunmore East as well as local fishing boats.

Bad weather and sea mists hampered the search but by mid-afternoon the vessel had been located and a marker put down in a spot where the water is believed to be some 40 feet deep.

As darkness fell, the search was called off and will be resumed at first light this morning, weather permitting.

Irish Independent

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