Friday 25 May 2018

Fourth brother was due to be on fishing trip that claimed three lives

Margaret Bolger pictured with her surviving son Anthony.
Margaret Bolger pictured with her surviving son Anthony.

Niall O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

THE older brother of the three fishermen who died tragically off the southeast coast would have been with them on their ill-fated fishing trip but for the fact he is recovering from surgery.

Paul (49), Shane (47) and Kenny Bolger (45) died in Tramore Bay after the boat they were using to retrieve lobster pots capsized.

According to locals, Anthony Bolger, pictured, usually fished with his younger brothers.

But he did not set out to sea with them because he is recuperating from a heart operation he had four weeks ago.

He is said to be "devastated and heartbroken" at the loss of his brothers.

Last night, Mr Bolger was in the family home in Passage East, Co Waterford, comforting his mother Margaret, sister Lynda and brother Michael.

An uncle of the tragic fishermen, Joe Whitty, told how he raised the alarm on Wednesday when he himself returned from a fishing trip and the men were not there to greet him.

Speaking at the Bolger family home on Blynd Quay, overlooking the harbour at Passage East, Mr Whitty was still in shock when he spoke to the Irish Independent.

“Some people wouldn't realise how devastating it is. The family ourselves just can't believe they're gone. I don't believe they will until the funeral arrangements are made,” said Mr Whitty.

“The thing about it is, even though they were married and living separately in different houses, they always came here.

“They'd work on the fishing gear here, they'd go into their mother's for their dinner, breakfast or whatever. It was always the main home,” he added.

Tuesday afternoon was a normal day when the three brothers set sail on the fishing trip from the nearby port of Dunmore East.

The brothers set off at 7am in their 19ft punt ‘Dean Leanne’ to tend their lobster pots off of Brownstown Head.

Mr Whitty also went to sea and had planned to go on a longer trip than his nephews but on his return the men were not home yet.


“What happened was I was fishing a longer day. Normally I would be in about three o'clock but wasn't in until about five,” said Joe.

“When I got in a young lad said to me the lads were not in. I thought that was strange but thought they might be in coves here or there. I went down shore for about 20 minutes to Ballymacaw Bay.

There was no sign of them and the weather was getting bad.

“I rang the coxswain in the lifeboat and he said that we should do a search around,” he added.

Mr Whitty immediately put back to sea just before 6pm and rushed at full speed out of the harbour.

Already the lifeboat crew had set off and Mr Whitty saw the Waterford Search and Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 117, fly overhead and begin their search pattern.

Within minutes the rescuers had found the brothers but it was too late.

They were floating on the surface with no sign of life. The remains of their boat was barely floating within sight of the bodies.

Rescue 117 winched one of the bodies on board and rushed to Waterford Regional Hospital to try and find signs of life. The other two bodies were taken on board the lifeboat but there was nothing they could do.

Irish Independent

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