THE tragic death of an Irish swimmer during a Channel crossing attempt has triggered a remarkable outpouring of donations to his two favourite charities.
Paraic Casey (45) was just 3km from the French coast when he suddenly fell ill and had to be taken from the sea into his support boat.
Frantic efforts to stabilise his condition failed and he was pronounced dead before he could be air-lifted to Le Touquet.
A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out but it is thought Mr Casey, from Passage West in Cork, may have suffered some type of cardiac arrest.
The tragedy occurred shortly before 3am when the swimmer was just a couple of hours from making landfall.
A major aid operation was mounted by the British and French authorities which included a French rescue helicopter complete with a paramedic team, a speedboat and onshore support services.
Mr Casey's heartbroken wife, Riana Parsons-Casey, said they were devastated that an event he had been eagerly looking forward to for months should end in such tragedy.
Mr Casey had insisted that his Channel attempt would benefit Irish charities and he had staged several table quiz events to raise funds for St Vincent de Paul and Marymount Hospice.
Both charities have now been inundated with donations and offers of help as a remarkable tribute to Mr Casey.
Mr Casey, a native of Cork, had lived briefly in Galway and worked as a wildlife ranger at Fota Wildlife Park.
Tributes were paid to him last night by various clubs and marathon swimmers.