Ciaran Smith

Areas around the crash site at Blackrock Island, 13km west of the Mullet peninsula in North Mayo have been searched extensively over the past six months.

Members of the community of Oldtown and the greater Fingal area, including many of the county’s lifeguards, have gathered at Blacksod Bay in north Mayo over the last few months, combing the area in an effort to locate the bodies of Ciaran and Paul Ormsby.

Superintendent Tony Healy, who is leading the garda investigation, has described the find as “a big step forward”, adding that it confirmed that Ciaran’s body was somewhere in the water around Blacksod.

The lifejacket was inflated and is said to have been in relatively good condition. It was intact when discovered, as was the helmet that was attached to it.

More detailed shoreline searches have been carried out in light of the weekend discovery but these have not yielded any further clues.

Superintendent Healy said the possibility of conducting fresh dives in the waters between the Iniskea islands and the shore was being examined, but said such an operation would be weather dependent.

Ciaran’s family were informed about the find as soon as gardaí confirmed it was his protective gear. His sister Orla told the Irish Sun this week the family were “eternally grateful” to everyone who had continued to search for her brother.

She said: “People are still walking the coast, fishermen are still keeping an eye out and the Coast Guard’s units are still looking.

“We are eternally grateful to everyone who has and is continuing to look for both of them.”