Tributes are being paid to two young men who lost their lives in Mayo in the early hours of Christmas morning.
Declan Davitt and Martin Needham, both aged in their late 20s, lost their lives when their SUV was swept down river near Louisburgh, Co Mayo.
THe alarm was raised by a third man, aged 19 who had been travelling with the men and managed to escape the vehicle.
The pair's bodies were recovered after emergency services carried out a search-and-rescue operation in Carrownisky River.
It is understood that the men had taken a shortcut commonly used by 4X4s or tractors, but on this occasion the tide had made the crossover far more dangerous.
Local councillor Michael Kilcoyne said: “The whole county of Mayo is in shock. It’s heartbreaking.”
A friend of Martin's said "
“He had been working in New Zealand where he was doing very well for himself and had decided to come home for good.
“He was well-known in the farming community and this has come as a huge shock to all who knew him.”
Independent councillor Mr Kilcoyne told the Irish Sun: “The whole county of Mayo is in shock.
“My heart really goes out to the families. I knew the families. They’ll be inconsolable today.
“It’s heartbreaking, it’s so sad. It’s an awful tragedy to happen at any time but particularly on Christmas morning.”
And local councillor Austin Francis O’Malley told the publication that the Louisburgh area has been shook by the tragedy:
He said: “All I can say is my deepest sympathies to both families that are involved. Louisburgh is just stunned today.
“I was local councillor in the area for ten years. The two lads are both into farming and they are two young gentlemen from very respectable families.
“All I have to say is that I am just traumatised because I knew the families personally. My deepest sympathies to the families. This on Christmas Day, it’s awful.”