West Clare has been left stunned by the death of father-of-two Paul Dillon after the Clare County Council worker was swept out to sea on Sunday afternoon.
Paul, who was in his early 40s, is understood to have lost his life after he got into difficulty in the water while walking along the shoreline north of Kilkee, Co Clare, at approximately 2:30pm on Sunday.
It is understood he had been picking seaweed with friends on the shoreline when he lost his footing and and fell into the sea.
Councillor Cillian Murphy, Cathaoirleach West Clare Municipal District, paid tribute to Paul and said the whole community has been left in shock at his sudden passing.
“It’s a very big shock and there’s no doubt that the whole community is in a state of shock today. Anyone that I’ve spoken to today is in complete shock at the passing of this extremely nice man.
“I would have dealt with Paul in the Council for a number of issues in work and nothing was ever too much trouble for Paul.
“My sincere condolences go to his family and his friends but also to his work colleagues. It's the second death of a road crew member in the past week. Paul would have been on the Guard of Honour for Michael Ryan’s funeral on Friday and I met him there and said hello.
“It’s unbelievable to think he is gone today - it’s just so sad. He was very well-liked and a popular man,” Cllr Murphy told the Irish Independent.
Paul was a native of Tullycrine, near Kilrush, but had moved to Doonbeg in recent years. He had played football for his local Shannon Gaels GAA Club.
A multi-agency search and rescue operation was launched on Sunday afternoon after Mr Dillon entered the water, involving the Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard; the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter - Rescue 115 - the Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat; National Ambulance Service and Gardaí.
At around 3.10pm, Paul’s body was located and recovered from the water by the Kilkee Coast Guard team.
Mr Dillon’s body was taken back to the Coast Guard station and was later removed by hearse to University Hospital Limerick where a post-mortem examination will be carried out.
Mr Dillon is survived by his wife Róisín, his two children and wider circle of family and friends. No funeral arrangements have been confirmed for Paul as of yet.