SKELETAL remains have been found in the search for a missing fisherman who vanished 17 years ago after his car was recovered by garda divers.
The family of Barry Coughlan, 23, from Crosshaven, who disappeared after a night out with friends on May 1, 2004, were praying that his body may be found in the Toyota Corolla hatchback lifted from the water at the Crosshaven pier on Thursday night.
Gardai are at the scene at Hugh Coveney Pier in Crosshaven, Co. Cork this afternoon.
The remains, which have not yet been identified, have now been sent to Cork City Morgue for an examination.
A garda spokesman said: “Gardaí have today discovered skeletal remains in the car that was found off Hugh Coveney Pier in Crosshaven, Co. Cork on May 26, 2021.
“The submerged car was discovered by divers on May 26 and Gardaí were notified.
“The scene was preserved as the Garda Water Unit conducted a search operation and were able to extract the car from the water the following day.
“The car is currently being technical examined and has been confirmed as a red Toyota, 98-C-18625.
“During the technical examination of the car, Gardaí discovered skeletal remains.
“The remains will now be transferred to Cork City Morgue where an examination will be carried out. The local Coroner has also been notified.
“The results of the examination, and DNA analysis by Forensic Science Ireland, will hopefully assist in confirming the identity of the remains.”
SILT AND MUD
The car, in which high levels of silt and mud have built up over the years, will now undergo a full and careful forensic examination at a Cork location.
Members of the Coughlan family kept a pierside vigil throughout the night until the car was finally raised from its watery grave at around 11.30pm on Thursday.
It was carefully placed on a flatbed truck waiting on the quayside, covered in plastic and taken away.
A full examination of the car, which was on its roof in the water, could take a number of days, it’s understood.
Chris O’Donoghue from the Cork Missing Persons Search and Recovery Group – who discovered the car on Wednesday – told how it took approximately 30 minutes for the vehicle full of mud to be lifted from the water.
He told the Irish Sun earlier today: “The Garda dive unit did extraordinary work. They were down at the site for hours moving silt and mud in order to enable the lifting of the car out of the water.
“The lifting operation began around 10.30 pm and it took about half an hour for the car to break out of the water.
“Nets had been placed underneath it to ensure if anything fell off it could be caught in the netting and a wheel did come away.
“There was a 90-tonne crane on the quayside and it took another 40 minutes to bring the car to shore and place it on a waiting flatbed truck. It was then covered in plastic before being driven away for forensic examination.
“That was close to midnight and there was absolutely no way of knowing if there are human remains in the car, the examination of which could take a considerable length of time.
‘LONG AND COMPLEX OPERATION’
“The Garda divers went back down today to continue a search of the seabed, especially the area where the car was lodged in so much mud and silt.”
He earlier added: “It’s a long and complex operation but those divers will leave nothing to chance.
“We remained throughout the night at the pier along with members of the family and we are all hoping that Barry will be in the car so they can get some closure.”
Barry had been drinking with pals in the former Moonduster pub in his Co Cork hometown before leaving in the early hours of May 1, 2004 — and has never been seen since.
Despite numerous appeals by relatives, who were left stunned by his disappearance, in the 17 years that followed, there has been no contact or no definite sightings.
Barry had just got a job as a fisherman in Castletownbere and bought a red Toyota Corolla when he vanished.
Last seen at around 1.20am leaving the Moonduster, it’s understood he may have parked his car on the Hugh Coveney pier across the road.
BURIED TOYOTA CAR
It’s feared he may have inadvertently hit the reverse gear instead of first and accidentally accelerated backwards into the water.
His distraught family, who were immediately informed about the discovery of a car, had always believed Barry would be found alive.
The grim discovery was made by Chris and other members of Cork Missing Persons Search and Recovery Group on Wednesday, using a newly acquired Starfish 990S sonar.
Members went out on a training exercise in a rib and were using the sonar when it picked up a mass object in the sea about ten metres off the Crosshaven pier.
The group’s divers went down and discovered a Toyota car buried underneath silt and mud with just a wheel showing.
They managed to get a partial reg from the car and this led to the belief it was Barry’s car.
Lucky Irish Lotto player scoops €2.4m jackpot as numbers revealed
Person pretended to be from HSE and reached out to hackers to access data
Gardai renew appeal for information on 3rd anniversary of woman’s disappearance
Mary Lou McDonald marks 25th wedding anniversary with special online post
ARGUE THE TOSS
Rowing couple SURVIVE 25ft balcony fall after crashing through railings
Dr Tony Holohan thanks public for their kindness after wife Emer’s death
After going down, the group immediately notified gardai who launched an investigation.
Gardai called in the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit which arrived in Crosshaven on Thursday morning, but had to wait for the tide to turn before entering the water.
Divers went down to the site of the car in the afternoon.