UNITED in life, united in death.
Paul (49) Kenny (47) and Shane Bolger (44) were today being remembered as popular, hard-working men known for their warm and friendly personalities.
Yesterday was just another day as the three set off lobster fishing along the Waterford Estuary – but hours later the most devastating tragedy was discovered.
The job only took two men but such was the bond between the Bolger brothers that they generally worked as a trio.
It is thought that the trio succumbed to hypothermia after their boat capsized a half mile off Brownstown Head near Tramore, an area that they knew so well.
Back on land it would be hours before the alarm was raised and a community struggled to understand the unfolding news.
The close bond between the siblings was recalled by Pat Fitzgerald, a local councillor who is married to a first cousin of the men.
"They were going after lobsters and the boat they were using would only have needed two men. But the three of them went off as they always worked closely together," said Cllr Fitzgerald.
The three men started fishing at a very young age as they were from a family steeped in the fishing tradition for generations.
"They'll be sadly missed. They were great characters, too, and they were doing their best," he said.
The men had made a good living in the past from salmon fishing but then the salmon fisheries were closed down. They and other fishermen were finding it difficult to earn a livlihood and had resorted to going after lobsters.
They were involved in the lives of their communities and were keen members of the local Passage GAA hurling club as young men.
The brothers were members of a family of seven children reared by their parents Margaret and Johnny. Their father was deceased and Kenny, who was single, lived with his mother in Passage East.
Shane lived in Crook with his partner Lucy and two children Martha-Kay (4) and Calum (15). Paul lived in Cheekpoint with his partner Patricia and their daughter Rachel (12).
Locals said the half-decker boat was owned by the men's brother Anthony. They also have a brother Michael and two sisters Paula and Lynda.
Paula is a twin sister of Paul. She lives in Amsterdam and was planning to return to Passage East to celebrate their 50th birthday together.
Paula wrote on Facebook: "What a tragedy in my family today, my three brothers lost doing what they loved their whole lives, fishing for a living. I am devastated."
Local woman Anita Furlong, wife of publican Sean Furlong, said the entire community was devastated. "They were lovely guys. It is so sad. There are children involved and the schools will be very sad places today." Cousin Michael Connors told RTE's Morning Ireland that the three Bolger brothers were "the most experienced fishermen you could ever come across anywhere."
He said he was "heartbroken" and he found it "very hard to take it on board."