MISSING fisherman John Ennis's last words to his beloved wife Mai will be forever etched in her memory.
As her husband prepared to leave his home in Ballyhack, Co Wexford, early on Friday morning the last thing he told her was he only intended to fish for a few hours. But he didn't return that afternoon as planned.
Mr Ennis is still missing after the boat he was working on, Na Buachailli, went down about 100 metres from the shoreline close to Arthurstown Pier in the Suir estuary of Co Wexford last Friday.
Mr Ennis and his skipper, Richard McNamara, both from Ballyhack, were fishing for mussels aboard the 30-footer at 11.30am in about 3.7 metres of water when the boat began to sink. Weather conditions were said to be good at the time of the incident with a calm sea.
Mr McNamara managed to get hold of a life raft and make it ashore close to Blackhill Lighthouse near Duncannon, Co Wexford.
The search for Mr Ennis has been hampered by dense fog, but RNLI crew assisted by local trawlers yesterday continued to search the area.
Navy divers trawled the seabed and the vessel but to no avail. The major sea rescue operation was called off last night and was set to resume at first light this morning. The Irish Coast Guard helicopter was forced to return to base owing to fog.
Mr McNamara, a father of nine, said he was relieved to be alive, but was fearful for the life of his colleague.
He said at one point he saw Mr Ennis hanging on to the stern of the vessel, but when he looked back a second time both he and the boat had disappeared. It's believed neither of the men was wearing a lifejacket at the time and neither one could swim.
Mrs Ennis and the couple's four daughters -- Martina, Ann, Aislinn and Paula -- are maintaining a vigil at their home overlooking the sea as they await updates of the search.