Saturday 1 October 2016

Fisherman drowns just hours before son's christening

Pat Flynn and Emma Jane Hade

Published 20/04/2015 | 02:30

Father-of-three Bernard Mahoney (39), died after he was caught by rising water levels while out oyster farming in Clare.
Father-of-three Bernard Mahoney (39), died after he was caught by rising water levels while out oyster farming in Clare.

A close-knit rural community is in mourning after an oyster fisherman drowned hours before his youngest child's christening.

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The body of Bernard Mahoney (39) was found shortly before 11am yesterday on a mud bank at Poulnasherry Bay in Co Clare, after an eight-hour search.

The father-of-three was oyster farming with three other men on Saturday night when they got into difficulty.

The group were using two tractors with trailers attached when they became cut off by a "spring tide".

It is believed Mr Mahoney may have got into difficulty after attempting to swim to shore, while the other men had sought safety on top of their machinery.

A family living across the bay heard the men calling for help and noticed their flashlights at around 2.30am, and they attempted to rescue them with their own boat. The emergency services were alerted and shortly before 3.30am, several units of the Coast Guard travelled to the scene as a large-scale rescue operation was launched.

A Coast Guard team surveys the submerged cabs of the tractors in Poulnasherry Bay
A Coast Guard team surveys the submerged cabs of the tractors in Poulnasherry Bay

The three other men - one of whom is understood to be Mr Mahoney's brother - were rescued by the local boat and returned to the scene with other members of the Mahoney family as they waited for news yesterday morning.

However, Mr Mahoney's body was located a short distance from where he was last seen, just before 11am yesterday.

Mr Mahoney lived in Moveen, Kilkee, Co Clare, with his wife Mairead. The couple had been due to christen their youngest son yesterday.

Local councillor Gabriel Keating said this was the second time tragedy had hit the Mahoney family in recent months, as their father Joe died suddenly before Christmas.

"It's awful, our area here is devastated," Mr Keating said last night. "I knew Bernard very well. He was a hard-working man. He had a great interest in fishing and oyster beds, and he did that in his spare time."

Mr Keating described Mr Mahoney as "a real family man". "He was very popular. We are just devastated and stunned, it is beyond belief what has happened."

Fr Patrick Culligan, Carrigaholt parish priest, said the community was "absolutely shocked".

Irish Independent

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