Hope starting to fade as search for fishermen enters fourth day
HOPES that two fishermen lost at sea would be found alive were fading last night after a third day of searching failed to locate them.
Ronan Browne (25) and his friend David Gilsenan (41) went missing after leaving Skerries Harbour, Co Dublin, in their 17ft open-top fishing boat on Friday.
The coast guard, gardai, RNLI, civil defence, a search helicopter and civilian volunteers were out again yesterday from 6.30am until sundown, combing an area that stretched from Greenore, Co Louth, to Ireland's Eye, in an attempt to find the men.
But it is increasingly feared that father-of-two Mr Gilsenan from Rush and Mr Browne from Skerries, both marine engineers and experienced fishermen, have drowned.
Their boat, named 'Lady Linda', after the woman Mr Browne married in October, was found on Saturday, five miles off Clogherhead.
An item of clothing from one of the men and lobster pots from the boat were later found off Colt Island, 12 miles south of where the boat was found.
It is believed the boat got into trouble in high winds and choppy seas.
The alarm was raised at 6.30pm on Friday when a fellow fisherman realised the men had not returned.
The men's wives, Linda and Suzanne, continued to keep a vigil at Skerries Harbour yesterday. Des Halpin, uncle of Mr Gilsenan's wife, Suzanne, told the Irish Independent that Suzanne was in shock.
"I saw David just a fortnight ago. What can I say; it's very tough at the moment," said Mr Halpin.
"David was deeply rooted in the community here. He was a great man; a hard worker," he said.
"His boat, the 'Chloe Connor', is still moored at Loughshinny. It's a terrible tragedy."
Ken Cloughley, who lives a few houses away from Mr Gilsenan in Woodlands Park, was among the hundreds of search volunteers.
"I knew him to say 'hi' to. He was very friendly. They've been here for years. It's very sad. I was out searching this morning.
"This is a very small neighbourhood and we'd all know each other reasonably well," he added.
And fellow fisherman Johnny Fanning said he had worked with Mr Browne when he was 13 or 14 and knew Mr Gilsenan.
"Ronan was only a young lad and he's just married, it's terribly sad," he said. "He worked with me on the boats when he was younger and he was a very nice guy.
"David was very clever. He was an engineer and worked on the boats with engines and propellers and that kind of thing.
"He was a generous man and would always help you out if you needed it."
Both men are rugby fans and are involved with the local Skerries RFC club.
Family members continue to hope the men will be found alive.
RNLI spokeswoman Mary Courtney said the search was following a six-nautical-square-mile radius.
Garda divers are also searching in the areas where the men were last seen.
The search will resume at first light this morning.