'It’s a huge tragedy': Three men who died off Kerry coast named locally as area mourns

Latest: The three men who drowned in the boating tragedy in Co Kerry have been named locally as Anatolijs Teivens, Jurijs Burcves and Valerijs Klimentengvs.

All three men were earlier identified as Latvian nationals.

The remains of the boat that went down off Coonanna Harbour, Cahersiveen, Co Kerry on Sunday afternoon being brought ashore this evening.

Both Anatolijs Teivens and Jurijs Burcves lived in Killarney with their families and Valerijs Klimentengvs resided in Tralee.

The mayor of Kerry has extended the sympathy of the people of the county to the families of the three.

Cllr Norma Foley said:

"The people of Kerry are shocked and saddened at this appalling tragedy. I want to express my condolences to the mens’ families at this very sad time.

There is a small but valued Latvian community in Kerry and our thoughts and prayers are with the Latvian community and the men’s friends and neighbours at this time.

"I have no doubt that the people of south Kerry and beyond will do everything they can to support the bereaved through this difficult period."

Debris from the boat was spotted by members of the cliff and coast Iveragh coastguard unit, indicating the fibreglass punt had partially broken against rocks overnight.

The debris has been recovered and is in possession of gardai in Cahersiveen and will be examined by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

Family members of three men who were taken from the water just off Coonanna Harbour in south Kerry yesterday evening made contact with gardai on Sunday night after news of the tragedy broke and the men did not return home.

The stricken boat in which three people lost their lives while fishing is removed from Coonanna Harbour, near Cahersiveen, County Kerry today. Picture:Don MacMonagle.

Two of the men had been living in Killarney. Generally, the small Latvian community works in recycling as well as joinery businesses.

There are calls in Kerry for better information for the non-Irish population who work in the hotel and service industry in the county. Angling is popular with East Europeans especially but there have been a number of tragedies.

Michael Cahill, a long time councillor for South and West Kerry who lives at Rossbeigh and grew up alongside the Atlantic has said the loss of the three men just off the coast on Sunday was “a terrible tragedy”. Local fishermen in Dingle Bay, Cromane and elsewhere were wary of north westerly winds, he said.

“People who come to this country may not be as au fait with the sea and weather conditions which those of us who grew up here near the sea would know about from older people and our families. We need to make sure sea safety campaigns and awareness of local conditions is communicated to them,” the Fianna Fail councillor said.

The men had arrived by car to Coonana just outside Cahersiveen and had set out early on Sunday morning, shortly before 8.30 am, to fish in the harbour, an area they were familiar with.

It is not clear yet what kind of equipment they were using whether rods or nets.

All three bodies were recovered from just off shore within an hour of reports to emergency services by a man walking in the area shortly after 6 pm.

Family friends of the three men who drowned in a boating accident are shown where the boat went down by a local man just off Coonanna Pier near Cahirsiveen, Co Kerry. Picture: Dan Linehan.

He noticed the overturned boat and a man floating in the water.

One of the bodies was closer to the pier than the others – all three had been wearing flotation devices.

They had been in the water for some hours, it is thought, though the cause of the accident remains a mystery.

The parish priest of Cahersiveen and Valentia, Fr Larry Kelly said everyone felt huge sorrow.

“It’s a huge tragedy,” Fr Kelly said.

The 15ft open boat, described by the coastguard as a punt, in which three men set out early on Sunday morning has now sunk but will be taken from the waters later today, with the assistance of divers.

Conditions in Coonanna are calm this morning. Yesterday north westerlies of force three to four were blowing.

However the men appeared to have stuck close to the cliff lined land, and the upturned boat was in the sheltered end of the harbour.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board as well as gardai are involved in the investigation.

John Draper Divisional Controller of the Valentia Coastguard said they had reports the boat was an old speed boat type, with a very large engine and this may not have been ideal for the conditions on Sunday.

Coastguard removing debris from the scene this morning. Pic: Dan Linehan.

Earlier: Post-mortem examinations are expected to be carried out today on the bodies of three men recovered from the water off Coonanna Harbour in south Kerry yesterday evening.

The three men have been identified as Latvian nationals.

The men were aged 30, 38 and 57.

All three men are believed to have lived in Kerry for a number of years with their families at addresses in both Killarney and Tralee.

It is believed that one of the men, whose body was found close to the Coonanna shore, was trying to raise the alarm.

Gardaí and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board are continuing their investigations into the deaths of three men.

Earlier: Family members of three men who were taken from the water just off Coonanna Harbour in south Kerry yesterday evening have come forward to investigating gardaí in Caherciveen, writes Anne Lucey.

The three men, two men aged in their 30s and one man in his 40s, are believed to be Latvian and two of the men had been living in Killarney, it is believed. The third man was living elsewhere in Kerry.

The South Kerry area is popular with anglers from Eastern Europe and there have been a number of tragedies in the area of people swept off rocks and cliffs while fishing.

The men had arrived by car to Coonana just outside Cahersiveen and had set out before 8.30am on Sunday morning to fish in the harbour, an area they were familiar with.

It is not clear yet what kind of equipment they were using, whether rods or nets.

Coastguard removing debris from the scene this morning. Pic: Dan Linehan.

All three bodies were recovered from just offshore within an hour of reports to emergency services by a man walking in the area shortly after 6pm. The local man noticed the overturned boat and a man floating in the water.

One of the bodies was closer to the pier than the others and all three had been wearing flotation devices.

They had been in the water for some hours, it is thought, though the cause of the accident remains a mystery.

There had been no alert from the boat to the coastguard. The men had set out at 8.20am, the local man who spotted the upturned hull told them.

The 15ft open boat, described by the Valentia coastguard as a punt, in which the men set out early on Sunday morning has now sunk, but it is hoped it will be recovered from the waters later today, with the assistance of divers.

Coastguard and gardaí at the scene this morning. Pic: Don MacMonagle.

Conditions in Coonanna are calm this morning. Yesterday north westerlies of force three to four were blowing and there were swells of two metres.

John Draper Divisional Controller of the Valentia Coastguard said they had reports the boat was an old speed boat type, with a very large engine and this may not have been ideal for the conditions on Sunday.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board, as well as gardaí, are involved in the investigation.

Post mortems will be carried out today in Tralee, it is expected.

Earlier: Kerry community 'devastated' after three men drown in 'huge tragedy'

A community on the south Kerry coast has been described as "devastated" and "in shock" at the death of three men in a fishing tragedy.

Their bodies were found near an upturned boat yesterday evening near Coonanna Pier and post mortems are due to take place today.

The circumstances of what happened are unclear, but one theory put forward is that the boat may have capsized, drowning two of the men, and the third man drowned while trying to make it ashore.

Father Larry Kelly, the parish priest in Caherciveen, said locals cannot believe what has happened.

Fr Kelly said: "Everybody is shocked, these three young men, from what I can gather have come here fairly often in the past.

Coastguard removing debris from the scene this morning. Pic: Dan Linehan.

"We feel huge sorrow, heavy hearts for the families back home, it must be very tragic for them and everybody around here is devastated as well. It is a huge tragedy."

Earlier: Post mortems due on bodies of three men recovered from Kerry harbour

By Anne Lucey

Autopsies will take place today on the bodies of three men recovered from the water just offshore at Coonana Harbour in south Kerry yesterday.

Shortly after 6pm, a member of the public saw a man floating in the water and an overturned boat just off the eastern end of Coonana pier, a sheltered and scenic harbour 5km north of Caherciveen.

The emergency services were alerted and an operation, co-ordinated by the nearby Valentia Coastguard saw Shannon Rescue 115, the Coastguard Sikorsky helicopter, with the assistance of the Valentia RNLI lifeboat and the local Iveragh coastguard, recover the bodies of three men.

According to gardaí, two of the men were under the boat.

All three were recovered in less than an hour.

It is understood the men were Eastern European and lived in the area. One was in his 50s and the other two in their 30s.

The scene at Coonana Harbour, Co Kerry, where the bodies of three fishermen were recovered from the water yesterday evening.

They are believed to have gone out fishing earlier in the day in what the coastguard described as a 15ft punt, an open boat.

Winds were north-northwesterly, force three to four. However, the men appeared to have stuck close to the shore, and the upturned boat was in the sheltered end of the harbour.

All three bodies were taken to the morgue at University Hospital Kerry in Tralee where autopsies will be carried out today.

Gardaí are investigating, but the deaths are being treated as tragic accidents.

There is some speculation locally that one man may have fallen in and the other two had tried to rescue him. It appears they had been wearing heavy clothing.

It is believed the men drowned some time before the boat was spotted.

The tragedy recalls a similar drowning of a semi-retired couple fishing on a clear day just off Connana harbour 21 years ago.

On October 23, 1997, Paddy O’Donoghue, a native of Caherciveen who was in his 70s, and his wife, Kay, a British national also in her 70s, had gone to haul in mackerel nets in their 16ft boat for their weekly fishing stall business when tragedy struck and they both drowned.

That day was clear, calm, and warm.

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