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File photo of Irish Coast Guard crew. Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Deaths of three brothers who drowned off Waterford coast a 'devastating loss'

Their fishing vessel was reported overdue yesterday evening when they failed to return to shore.

THE DEATHS OF three brothers who drowned off the coast of Waterford while fishing yesterday has been described as a “devastating loss for their community.

The three men were reported overdue at 5.30pm yesterday evening when their fishing vessel failed to return to shore and they had last been seen at about midday. They had been out in their 18 foot punt to fish and were headed to Brownstown Head between Tramore Bay and Dunmore East.

A Coast Guard helicopter and two lifeboats were tasked and the first casualty was recovered from the water at approximately 6pm. The remaining two men were recovered by one of the lifeboat crews shortly after. Their boat was submerged in the water with only a small part of it visible. The coast guard said that there was a heavy swell with gales at force 4.

The lifeboat returned to Dunmore East harbour where  a doctor pronounced the three brothers dead. The men have been named as Paul, Kenny and Shane Bulger, all in their 40s.

Speaking about the tragedy, Dunmore East RNLI Coxswain Michael Griffin said it is a devastating loss for the community.

I knew the men personally and had been at school with two of them.  They were well known and respected by everyone.  I wish to offer my condolences and those of Dunmore East and Tramore RNLI to their family.  Sadly we have seen our fair share of tragedy in this area and it is heartbreaking to be unable to bring them home safely.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Pat Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the community is in “a state of shock”. He said that the three men come from a long tradition of fishermen in their family which is very well liked and respected locally.

“The lads themselves were very very close and they worked together and socialised together, practically went everywhere together and always helped each other in in their work,” he said.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board will be investigating the circumstances of the men’s deaths.

Read: Three fishermen dead after boat capsizes off Co Waterford>

Read: Two fishermen rescued off Sherkin Island after engine failure>

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