Tragedy as dad-of-three dies just hours before son's Christening
A rural community is united in grief after a young oyster fisherman drowned hours before his youngest son's Christening.
Bernard Mahoney was oyster farming at Poulnasherry Bay in Clare in the early of hours of yesterday morning with three other men when they got into difficulty.
The men were using two tractors with trailers attached when they became cut off by a spring tide.
Three of the men reached safety after climbing to the top of the machinery, but it is understood that Bernard (39) may have gotten into difficulty after attempting to swim to shore.
A family living across the bay rescued three of the men with their own boat after they heard their cries for help and noticed their flashlights shortly after 2am. The emergency services were notified and several units of the coastguard attended the scene at approximately 3.30am.
A large-scale rescue operation was launched and several items - including waders and gloves - were recovered by workers early in the search.
The three men who had been rescued - one of whom is understood to have been Mr Mahoney's brother - returned to the scene with his family as they waited for news yesterday morning.
However, the body of the father-of-three was recovered shortly before 11am along a mud bank just a short distance from where he was last seen.
The 39-year-old lived locally in Moveen, Kilkee, with his wife Mairead, their two sons and daughter.
Their youngest son was due to be Christened yesterday.
Local councillor Gabriel Keating said this is the second tragedy to hit the "hard-working family" in recent months, as their father Joe died suddenly last December.
"I knew Bernard very well. He was a real family man, a lovely man and a great man," Mr Keating said last night.
"He was involved in the building trade. He had a great interest in fishing and oyster beds and he did that in his spare time. We are just devastated and stunned, it is beyond belief.
"I was down in the area where it happened [yesterday]and tide was out and everything was just so calm and so quiet. And suddenly this wave came and took him. He was a member of a very good, hard-working family."
Local priest Fr Patrick Culligan also paid tribute to the deceased and said the locals were in "absolute shock" last night.
Fr Culligan said he visited Mr Mahoney's family home yesterday morning.
"It is very difficult. The poor family, they really are shocked," he added.
Separately, a man in his 20s was airlifted to hospital yesterday evening.
He had gotten into difficulty while he was swimming close to Kilkee, Co Clare.