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Drowned Mayo man may have slipped from pier

6th July 2009

A 51-year-old retired postman drowned early yesterday (Sunday 5th July) after he apparently slipped on a pier as he returned to his boat to make the two-mile journey to his home on Inishlyre Island on Clew Bay, Co. Mayo. 

According to a report in the Irish Times (Monday July 6th), Tommy Gibbons was last seen at about 3.30am following a function which he attended at the nearby Mayo Sailing Club premises at Rosmoney near Westport. The alarm was raised yesterday morning when his body was spotted in the water beside the boat. Gardaí say the death had all the signs of a 'tragic accident'.

Mr Gibbons was regarded on the island and mainland communities around Clew Bay as a most caring and helpful person. A single man, he retired some years ago as postman for the ten or so inhabited islands in Clew Bay, and had been concentrating on his work as a ferryman, farmer and fisherman.

The dwindling community on 50-acre Inishlyre are stunned by the accident and the island now has only five inhabitants.

The dead man's sister-in-law Rhoda Gibbons said the body would be 'waked' on Inishlyre before being taken to the mainland for burial. Inishlyre has no cemetery.

Ms Gibbons added: "Any fisherman, farmer, boatman or sailor who needed help over the years could count on Tommy. He was a rock of support to everyone." 

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