Freak accident mirrors earlier fishing tragedy

A Killybegs fisherman died in the early hours of Tuesday morning in a freak drowning tragedy in Castletownbere in West Cork -- eight years after his younger brother died in similar circumstances.

A Killybegs fisherman died in the early hours of Tuesday morning in a freak drowning tragedy in Castletownbere in West Cork -- eight years after his younger brother died in similar circumstances.

43-year-old Oliver Cunningham from Killybegs, died after it is believed he tripped and fell in between the pier and his fishing boat, the Patrick C at the harbour at Castletownbere in west Cork as he was returning to the boat.

Tragically Mr. Cunningham’s brother Matthew (25) drowned after he fell into Killybegs harbour in almost identical circumstances in November 2002.

Oliver had been out with friends and was returning to his vessel which was berthed by Castletownbere’s quayside late on Monday night when the accident occurred and the alarm was raised when his friends realised that he had not returned.

The alarm was raised on Tuesday morning when his friends realised, as they prepared to depart for a day’s fishing, that he had not returned.

Mr. Cunningham’s body was discovered close to the town pier by divers at 1.45pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Local fishermen in the West Cork fishing village expressed shock at the double-tragedy for the family.

“This is a desperate tragedy for any family. It is bad enough to have one person drown like this, but to have two brothers die the same way is just beyond words. Your heart would go out to them”. one said.

Speaking to the Donegal Democrat yesterday morning, Deputy Thomas Pringle said that the whole community in Killybegs was in shock.

“This is devastating news for the community, particularly when his brother died in similar tragic circumstances nearly nine years,”

“He was a popular, quiet man and in fact was just a year behind me in school.

“He was working on the trawler which was based in Louth and had only docked in the Cork port for the night. There are a few Killybegs lads working on the boat and it goes without saying that they are all deeply shocked and upset.

“Most of the had been chatting with him shortly before it happened and they are just numbed by the whole thing.

“I would like to offer my own personal sympathy and indeed the sympathies of the community here in Killybegs to his parents Dan and Bridie, brother Stephen and sisters Siobhan and Terese in this difficult time.”

Yesterday his heartbroken family was preparing to travel to Cork to accompany his remains home.

Mr. Cunningham had been living in Co. Louth in recent times but was originally from St. Catherine’s Road in Killybegs.

The funeral Mass will take place for Mr. Cunningham at the Church of St.’s Joseph and Conal in Bruckless tomorrow (Friday) morning at 11.00 AM with interment afterwards in St. Mary’s Cemetry in Killybegs.