The badly decomposed body of a person, believed to be a woman, was discovered in a ditch by a young woman walking her dog yesterday morning.
The grim discovery was made in a rural area near to the village of Ferns, Co Wexford, shortly after 11.30am, in the townland of Ballyandrew.
It is understood that a handbag was found near the body, but there was nothing in it that has given gardai any clue about the person's identity.
"Because of the state of decomposition of this person's body, it is too early to say if they were the victim of foul play or not - the remains are skeletal in places," a senior source said last night.
"The gender of the person has also not been established, although there is a belief that the person is a female.
"All the indications are that the body was at the scene for some time," the source added.
Last night, the scene of the shocking discovery was sealed off and the body remained at the scene pending the arrival of a State pathologist and forensic garda specialists.
The body was found in a rural area around 4km from the village of Ferns.
The case is being investigated by Enniscorthy gardai.
A post-mortem examination on the remains was due to take place at Waterford Regional Hospital this morning, and this will hopefully help investigators establish if the person's death was an accident or not.
"After this happens, gardai will be in a much better position to know what happened in this case," the source said.
Local Fianna Fail councillor Pip Breen said the local community was shocked, but hopeful the discovery would bring "closure" once the remains were identified.
"Everyone who is missing a relative will say to themselves 'is this one of ours?', and that is the biggest thing we have here," he said.
"We have to wait to see, and everyone is only guessing for something at this stage, but any time a body is found, it's not good.
"There is nothing good about this and the only thing is, it might bring closure for someone."