CONTAMINATED alcohol has been linked to the deaths of two men and the hospitalisation of a third.
A coroner issued a stark warning as he opened inquests into the two men who died after drinking what is believed to be either poitin or "fake" contraband drinks.
Donegal coroner John Cannon fears that other people may consume alcohol potentially contaminated with dangerous chemicals.
The cases related to Denis Boyle, of Belcruit, Meenbanad, Burtonport, who died on December 18, 2013, and Rimantas Grigaliunas, also of Meenbanad, Burtonport, who died on March 13, 2014.
They lived 500 metres apart, and Sergeant Brigid McGowan said they were investigating a link between the two deaths.
Sgt McGowan said the toxicology report on Mr Grigaliunas was awaited. The evidence given at the inquest held in Letterkenny by investigating gardai stated that both men had been drinking heavily immediately before their deaths.
Garda Dermot Gallen told the inquest he was called to the house of Mr Boyle around 3.40am on December 18 and found him lying in bed.
"Marie Boyle, his wife, was very intoxicated. She said both of them had been drinking whiskey. She discovered Denis was not breathing," the garda said.
Toxicology revealed that Mr Boyle had a methanol level in his system of 585 mgs. The toxic range for methanol is between 82 and 125 mgs.
Garda Frank Connolly gave evidence of being called to the sudden death of the 41-year-old Lithuanian on March 13.
The deceased's girlfriend told the garda he had been off alcohol for more than a year but had recently started drinking again.
"She said he and Denis Boyle used to drink together," Garda Connolly said.
Sgt McGowan indicated to the court that a third person had been admitted to Letterkenny General Hospital and garda investigations are continuing.
It was believed this may have also been caused by methanol or some other contaminant.
Coroner Mr Cannon stated: "The fact that substances such as methanol and other toxic ingredients are used to either corrupt or debase or make impure an alcoholic beverage... is potentially lethal.
"This potentially catastrophic alcohol is either a home brew, like poitin, or it may be available as cheap illegally imported alcohol with the pretence of conventional branded names."
Mr Canon adjourned the inquests until June.
"It is very important that the public are aware and warned of the availability of poisonous alcohol," the coroner added.