'I'm so relieved to finally have our little brother home' - Body found in search for missing Michael (20)
The family of a young student missing since before Christmas have said they are relieved to finally have him home after a body was recovered from the sea.
Michael Bugler (20) had been missing since December 18 last.
A massive search operation was launched, involving a large number of volunteers tirelessly combing parts of the county for clues into his disappearance.
Yesterday, a body was spotted approximately 20 metres offshore by a search party at Oranmore, Co Galway. It is expected to take some time to officially confirm whether the body recovered is that of the missing NUIG student.
However, Mr Bugler's older sister Laura thanked the public for their support in bringing him home: "On behalf of myself, my family and Michael's friends I'd like to thank you all for your help and support over the past three weeks," she wrote in a Facebook post.
"Thankfully we are so relieved to finally have Michael home today."
The young law student is originally from Newmarket on Fergus on the outskirts of Ennis, Co Clare.
Local councillor Pat McMahon offered his condolences, and that of the town and parish, to Mr Bugler's family.
"People really feel for them," he said.
"We've all got families and this could be anybody's story. At least with finding his body they have a final reprieve."
Galway RNLI were called to the scene near Oranmore, outside Galway city, at 1.15pm yesterday by gardaí: "Galway RNLI Lifeboat recovered a casualty from waters at Renville, Oranmore," it said.
"The casualty was taken onboard the Lifeboat by Galway RNLI volunteer crew and transported back to Galway Docks.
"The casualty, a young man, was pronounced dead at the Lifeboat station by the Galway RNLI doctor, Dr Dan Murphy, at 1.20pm."
The remains were transferred to Galway University Hospital where a post-mortem is due to take place.
Mr Bugler was last seen before 1am on the Friday morning of December 18, after he left the Quays Bar in Galway city. Last week, his sister Laura posted an emotional message thanking volunteers who were involved in the search.
"We are still on the search for Michael," she wrote.
"I never thought I would be entering 2016 with my little brother gone, and the fact that we haven't yet found him, makes it even harder to get through milestones like tonight.
"As Michael's big sister it's always felt like my job to mind, protect, and look after my little man, and if anyone can help me finish off that job and spare a few hours in trying to bring him home tomorrow, it'd mean the world to myself and my family."
The last confirmed sighting of the student was a CCTV video of him passing a church in Claddagh, in the west of Galway city, just before 1am.