The search for a man missing and feared drowned off the Co Clare coast has been officially stood down.
The 34-year-old Polish man was reported missing in the early hours of January 10th when his family contacted gardaí expressing concern for his wellbeing and safety.
The man, who had been living in Killaloe, is understood to have indicated that he was going to an area of west Clare he had visited regularly.
Soon after gardaí commenced a search of the area they located a car at the lighthouse at Loop Head almost 150kms from the man’s home. Officers quickly confirmed that it was the car the missing man had been driving.
The Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue coordination centre at Valentia in Co Kerry was alerted amid fears for the man’s safety and the Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard was called into assist in the search.
In darkness and extreme weather conditions Coast Guard volunteers searched the cliff edge and surrounding lands.
At first light the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115, joined the effort and carried out comprehensive searches along the shoreline of the picturesque peninsula.
In the early days however, extreme and dangerous weather conditions including winds of up to 130kmh hampered efforts and caused frustration for search teams.
Family members and friends of the missing man have travelled to the area in recent weeks to conduct their own searches while candles left at scene close to where man is believed to have entered the water.
Despite the dangerous weather conditions, Coast Guard volunteers braved the elements and carried out detailed land and coastline searches over several weeks. They were however unable to launch their rescue boat because of the gale force winds.
At one point, the Coast Guard was forced to issue a warning members of the public who had planned taking part in a search to remain away from the coast saying conditions were too dangerous.
A Coast Guard spokesman confirmed: “We have called off our search for now as we have found no trace of the missing person. We were frustrated by the weather during the past few weeks especially in the early days of the search.
Our crews undertook shoreline and cliff top searches almost every day even when the conditions were too dangerous for anyone else to be out there. For now though we have called of the search but could resume if any possible sighting in the water is reported,” he said.