The Donegal County Coroner has said that he will be contacting the local council to ask them to review the safety situation and signage at Tullan Strand, Bundoran following the inquest into the death of a soldier at the beach.

The inquest comes shortly after an incident at the same beach last weekend in which a group of young footballers got into difficulties there.

Dr Denis McCauley made his remarks at the inquest into the death of 27-year-old Corporal Gavin Carey, from Mullingar in Co Westmeath, who drowned at the beach in August last year.

Cpl Carey was one of six soldiers from Custume Barracks in Athlone who were on a training course at Finner Camp in Donegal prior to deployment to Lebanon.

On the evening of 23 August five of them went for a swim at Tullan Strand and got into difficulties.

Dean Tone told the inquest that they were at waist level and messing about in the waves.

When they went to get out, Mr Tone said that he found the water pushing against his stomach and it was preventing him from walking.

He said three of them were struggling with the current and shouted for help. He was ahead of his two colleagues and was pulled towards the rocks and managed to get out.

Alan O'Connor told the inquest he was the farthest out in the sea and Cpl Carey was closest to the shore.

He said that they were swimming and messing about but when they went to leave the waves got very strong.

"The waves were pushing me left and right and every which way", he said, but he managed to get onto the rocks at his second attempt.

Padraig Cunningham had not gone into the water that evening but was watching his friends from the shore as they dived about in the waves.

When he heard two of them shouting to him for help he went up the bank to call for assistance and then realised Cpl Carey was missing.

The search for Cpl Carey's body lasted for five days.

His body was recovered from the sea by the Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Recovery Service on 28 August.

Cpl Carey was later buried with military honours.

Cpl Carey's mother, Patricia Peyton, told the inquest that her son joined the Army at the age of 18.

It was his lifelong ambition, she said and he was a soldier to the core.

Ms Peyton said that Cpl Carey was not just her son, he was her best friend and she lost everything when she lost him.

Garda Sergeant Damien Gaffney told the inquest that Tullan Strand is mainly used by surfers and people walking and it is known that there are riptides and undercurrents there.

He said it is not recommended for bathing, no lifeguards are employed there and there is one sign at the car park indicating that the beach is dangerous for bathing.

Sgt Gaffney said access to the beach is through private land and sand dunes on army property. 

Sgt Gaffney referred to an incident at the beach last weekend in which a number of Fermanagh minor footallers who had been training on the sand went into the water to cool down but were caught in the waves.

However he said they were lucky because there were a number of surfing instructors there who helped to rescue them.

The coroner said that the drowning of Cpl Carey was a terrible accident and we have a duty to make recommendations to prevent this happening again.

He said the beach is known to locals to be dangerous and is used mostly by surfers, but visitors like Cpl Carey and his colleagues and the Fermanagh footballers were not aware that there was a risk involved.

The coroner said he would be contacting Donegal County Council after the inquest to encourage it to review the safety situation and signage at approaches to the beach.