A body was discovered on Monday in the Comeragh Mountains in Co Waterford where a search operation aiming to locate a missing woman was taking place, gardaí have confirmed.
The woman, named locally as Gillian Ryan (37), had been due to return from a run in the mountains at around 2pm on Sunday.
Tributes are now pouring in for the “beautiful” mother-of-two, who was a well-known national athlete from the Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co Tipperary.
The 37-year-old’s husband Conor and children, Conor junior and Amelia, are being comforted by their extended family.
Running with Gillian made the many miles fly by in laughter and chat
Ms Ryan worked as a hairdresser. She was a prominent member of Thurles Crokes Athletic Club and had represented the club in local and national races on both the road and cross-country circuit, winning many events over the last several years.
Gardaí confirmed her body was found at around 6.30pm on Monday. Search teams had been expected to resume their exhaustive bid today to locate Ms Ryan along the extensive Comeragh mountain range, who was last seen at 12.45pm on Sunday.
Emergency services members remained with her remains for several hours until they were removed from the Coumshingaun Loop trail. A post-mortem examination is expected to be carried out today at University Hospital Waterford.
It is understood Ms Ryan died following a tragic accident. Search and rescue mountain teams will spend today removing her remains from the dangerous and gully-filled terrain.
Ms Ryan resumed competitive running in late 2018 after a gap of several years and Thurles Crokes Athletic Club paid tribute to their “beautiful” member.
"It is with absolute shock and heartbreak that we announce the untimely passing of our beautiful friend and athlete Gillian," the club said in a statement.
"So full of love and positivity. Running with Gillian made the many miles fly by in laughter and chat.
"Our love, prayers and condolences to her husband Conor, daughter Amelia and son Conor at this time.”
Local Fianna Fáil councillor Sean Ryan said the community was in "deep shock at the loss of such a wonderful lady."
"News of the accident and her untimely passing has sent shock waves through Thurles and Moycarkey Borris where she was best known and highly respected," he said.
“What has happened is absolutely unspeakable. I knew Gillian and indeed her husband Conor who is originally from the nearby village of Dundrum. He too is a well-known runner.
“Gillian was a committed family person and adored her young children. I met her only three weeks ago and we exchanged pleasantries. You would always see her out running along the roads and she was a very graceful runner.”
Cllr Ryan appealed to people out on mountainous areas, such as the Comeraghs and the Coumshingaun Loop trail, to be mindful of how quickly the weather can turn and cause problems.
Love for running
In a previous interview with Thurles Crokes Athletic Club, Ms Ryan said running was her joy.
She said her running goal for the future was: “To get as many adventure runs as I can in. I love to run and feel blessed to be able to. I want to take my running to be able to join half marathons in beautiful places. What a dream to be able to run 22km along coast lines or scenic beauty spots.
“It's a huge gift and I want to enjoy it. This is my wish for my running. This is what makes me happy, I came to realise this is my dream for running. Not to burn out for the wins.
“If I come to do well in races that's an amazing high and I will always do my best but my love of running is to enjoy it and see beautiful places with amazing people along the way.”
The Coast Guard air and sea rescue 117 Sikorsky helicopter used a heat camera for several hours throughout Monday afternoon in a bid try to pinpoint where the married mother might have been.
Up to 30 highly trained members of mountain rescue teams took part in the search along the Tipperary/Waterford mountain range.
Gardaí and mountain rescue located Ms Ryan’s body close to an area where she had been believed to be last seen.
Ms Ryan was due to return from her run along the Coumshingaun Loop trail at 2pm but when her husband did not hear from her he alerted emergency services at 3pm. She had been in constant contact with family members prior to 2pm.
The South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association (SEMRA) led the multi-agency search along with the Search And Rescue Dog Association Ireland (SADRA), Rescue 117 of the Irish Coast Guard and local gardaí from Sunday.
On Monday, mountain rescue volunteers from other parts of the country including members of Kerry Mountain Rescue, Dublin and Wicklow search teams and the Glen of Imaal mountain rescuers began assisting in the search, as did Civil Defence volunteers.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can freephone the Samaritans 24 hours a day for confidential support at 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also freephone the national Bereavement Support Line run by the HSE and Irish Hospice Foundation at 1800 80 70 77 (Monday-Friday 10am-1pm).
In the case of an emergency, always dial 999/112.