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Body of 'gentle and loving' Irish man found dead 130 miles from home in UK as death remains a mystery

Irish Mirror logo Irish Mirror 27/01/2023 Melissa Major Cumbria Reporter

An inquest into the death of an Irish man who's body was found in the UK in 2021 took place at Cockermouth Coroners' Court in Cumbria yesterday.

The body of Barry McDonnell, 53, was found on October 4, 2021, after going missing from his hometown of Stillorgan Dublin

Mystery still remains over the death of McDonnell who was described as "gentle, kind and loving".

His body was found in the sea near Barrow in the UK.

The court heard from Barry's wife, Jane Doyle who paid tribute to his life, reports Lancs Live.

She said: "Barry was gentle, quiet and very honest. Barry was a straight person. He was a really sweet, quiet guy."

Jane told the court that Barry had previously suffered from poor mental health but had worked hard on this and recovered well.

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Barry, who worked as a gardener at the St. John of Gods Hospital, Dublin, was found at Walney Wind Farm in Barrow. An appeal to find him was first launched by Garda on September 20 after he went missing from work.

During the time before his body was found, several searches were carried out. This included drone searches, using cadaver dogs and searches of his car when it was found at How Head (a popular birdwatching site) in the North West of England, this found some of his birdwatching equipment was missing.

Just a few weeks later he was found at sea near Barrow and brought back to the shore by the coastguard.

DS Wayne Dixon was one of the officers that were called to identify Barry. He said that on October 4, the police were called after reports of a body in the Irish sea about 14 miles off the coast.

When Barry's body was discovered, a wallet was found in his front pocket that contained a donor card with the name Barry McDonnell on it. Further communication with the Gardai led DS Dixon to a positive identification that the body was that of Barry.

The inquest heard that Barry was an avid bird watcher, loved to cycle and was a carer for his younger brother. The court also heard that he had suffered from depression in the past and had previously tried to take his own life.

Assistant Coroner Craig Smith ruled the death as immersion in water, but it is still not known how or why he entered the water. Concluding the inquest he said: "Barry was found in the sea 14 miles out from Walney he had died as a result of the immersion in water albeit the exact mechanism of death cannot be determined due to the level of decomposition.

"It is not possible to determine with certainty the exact circumstances as to how he came to enter the sea."

A tribute to Barry at the time read: "Inexplicably and tragically lost at sea. A gentle, loving, kind, loyal and decent man. His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This was a man.”


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