Search for missing lobster fisherman resumes
The search for a lobster fisherman who went missing off the south coast of Wexford yesterday afternoon resumed at first light this morning.
Fears are growing for the man, named locally as Paddy Barry, who apparently went overboard after going out alone to harvest his catch.
The 51-year-old is married with three children.
His eldest child, a 23-year-old daughter, left to start a new life in Australia just weeks ago but is now preparing to fly home.
Last night his two other children, a 13-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter, were being comforted by relatives.
Mr Barry -- a highly experienced fisherman -- was reported missing around 12.40pm when his boat, the Lenora Jacinta, was spotted unattended.
It was seen about 400 metres south of the Great Saltee island near Kilmore Quay in Wexford at a spot known locally as Shoal Rock.
Two fishermen working nearby noticed that the vessel had not moved and went to investigate.
When they went to the boat there was no one on board.
Four lobster pots had been retrieved on to the boat with the rest still to be hauled in.
The boat was still attached to a number of lobster pots, suggesting that Mr Barry may have been lost overboard as he was bringing in his haul.
Two all-weather lifeboats from Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour were immediately alerted, assisted by the inshore RNLI vessel from Fethard On Sea.
As many as 20 local fishing vessels also converged on the scene. Sea conditions and visibility were both good in the area at the time.
The Coast Guard helicopter the Irish Navy vessel the LE Orla sped were also scrambled.
The massive operation continued under lights as darkness fell, before the search was called off for the night.
Mr Barry, who always wore a lifejacket at sea, is well known in the area and last year he took part in a conservation event organised by Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
Locals described Mr Barry as “a very experienced fisherman”.
One local told Independent.ie that there was a huge effort within the community to search for the missing man.
“Anyone that I know of is out there searching at the moment. All the boats are out. It is a very difficult time,” they said.
“The day you lose hope, you lose everything, so we’re certainly hopeful,” said another.
A spokesman for RNLI said conditions were excellent for the rescue operation.
The disappearance is the latest tragedy to hit Irish fishing.
In June this year Paul, Shane and Kenny Bolger from Passage East died after their 19ft punt capsized at Tramore Bay.
All three were wearing lifejackets but a post-mortem and inquest found they had died from hypothermia. The waters around the Great Saltee Islands, the scene of yesterday's rescue operation is a rich fishing ground and has claimed lives before.
On November 29, 2005, the 26ft Rising Sun sank in 50 metres of water there.
That tragedy claimed the lives of Pat Colfer, a 37-year-old father of two who was the boat's owner and skipper, and crewman Jimmy Meyler (47).
And a diver, Billy O'Connor, failed to resurface during the subsequent search.