Wexford People

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Missing fisherman was married only five months ago

Newly married Saltmills man William (Willie) Whelan remains missing after his trawler, the Alize sank off Hook Head on Saturday night.

The son of Joe and Breda, and brother to Joseph, Malcolm and Ciaran, Willie grew up on boats and loved the sea life.

Described as a jolly, larger than life, hard working man, Willie went missing at around 10.45 p.m. after the Alize suddenly went under with his good friend and work colleague Joe Sinnott on board.

At the time of going to press the search was continuing for the Saltmills man.

Willie hails from a well-known fishing family, his father Joe managing the company in which Willie, Malcolm and Ciaran fished under.

Willie owned the Alize, a ship he took great pride in.

He was out scallop fishing with Joe ahead of an impending storm when the trawler went under.

Aged 41, Willie was married in early 2019 and was looking forward to so much in life.

Cllr Michael Whelan said news of the tragedy has led to deep shock within the community.

'Unfortunately we are a community that has experienced many fishing tragedies over the years. It was amazing to see the other families who have lost loved ones at sea standing shoulder to shoulder with the Whelan family on the coast on Sunday. No one wants to encroach on the family's situation. Unfortunately a lot of people around here know what the coming days are going to be like for the Whelan's and many people fortunately don't know what that is like.'

A major search operation is taking place for Willie who comes from a long tailed local family.

Cllr Whelan said: 'It's not ideal for anyone to be out in that weather. I definitely wouldn't go out in it. You'd have to say well done to them all, the RNLI crew members, the Coastguard and all of the fishermen. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and with the Whelan and Sinnott families today.'

Cllr Whelan said he was in Duncannon on Sunday morning where he saw fishermen go out searching for Mr Whelan.

'They searched all around the Hook on Sunday afternoon. Members of the Whelan family were there and his brother Ciaran was among the people out searching for him. People were standing there supporting the Whelan family who are well known in fishing circles in the area; his father having been a fisherman along with his brothers.'

A friendly, polite, chatty man who was always helpful, Willie was always very safety conscious and was very careful when going out fishing, one of his friends, who asked to remain anonymous said.

'He had been working with Joe for years and they were great friends. There are so many connections within the area as it's such a tight knit community so everyone knew Willie. It's a really difficult area for recovery because it's very deep. The hope is that Willie's body is onboard the trawler.'

Wexford People