Gardai attempt to identify skull pulled from sea in fishing nets
GARDAI are trying to establish the identity of a person whose skull was found off the south-east coast by fishermen.
The discovery was made by a group of fishermen based in Co Wexford, led by skipper Jimmy Devlin, when they pulled in their nets some 55km south of Kilmore Quay. The skull has now gone to the state authorities for forensic analysis.
An examination was carried out by state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy at Waterford Regional Hospital yesterday afternoon but it could be weeks before the remains are formally identified.
It's understood the skull, which initial speculation suggested was that of a female, was in the sea for at least a number of months, and possibly up to two years.
The remains are not believed to have belonged to any of the victims of the two trawler tragedies of January 2007, when seven lives were lost when the Pere Charles and the Honeydew went down within hours of each other in stormy conditions off the south-east coast.
The skull found on Sunday night contained a number of back teeth that may allow for easier identification, along with some of the neck vertebrae.
According to veteran fisherman Jimmy Devlin, he and his crewmen found the skull as they were emptying their nets on board his boat, the Willie B.
"All the fish goes up into a conveyor belt and the boys saw it and came out with it. I put it in the fish-hold to keep it safe and kept it on ice. There's so many people lost at sea around here that you'd be hoping that you'd be bringing somebody some peace of mind."
Another trawler crew in the area found a leg about six months ago and that has yet to be identified.
Chief Superintendent John Roche at Wexford garda station said that identification will be "a long, slow process".
He pointed out that the location of the discovery, in an area known as the West Celtic Deeps, was close to several international shipping lanes and was also subject to strong currents.
The skull may have been washed from the south-west coast or the Welsh coast or even from north-west France, while the area in which it was found is also crossed by ships travelling between Britain and France and north America.