Two brothers have died while scuba diving in a quarry in Portroe, Co Tipperary.

They have been named locally as 42-year-old Fergus Brophy and his 34-year-old brother Philip from Ballybrittas in Co Laois, where their family has a farm.

It is understood both men were experienced divers. 

The Portroe diving centre only reopened today after being closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fergus and Philip Brophy - who were among the first customers at the centre this morning - arrived together.

They wanted to test an underwater scooter they had recently acquired. It is understood they were in the water for around half an hour when one of the brothers got into difficulty around 1.30pm.

His brother went to his assistance but he got into difficulty, too. He surfaced and raised the alarm but went unconscious and died a short time later.

Members of two search and rescue teams were in the water conducting separate training exercises when the alarm was raised. They recovered the second body in around 25 metres of water after Gardaí and the emergency services arrived.

The bodies of both men have been removed to Limerick University Hospital where a post-mortem examination is due to take place.

The quarry in Portroe, Co Tipperary where two brothers died while diving (file pic: Jeremy Simpson)

The slate quarry in Portroe has attracted divers for many years and, more recently, has been operating as a dive centre.

The water is believed to be 30 metres deep in parts. It is used by divers from all over the country, including the Garda water unit. Naval service divers have also dived there.

Its website describes it as "one of the best inland dive locations in Ireland" which is "always divable regardless of weather conditions".

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly is a local resident. He told RTÉ News: "People here in Portroe are very shocked that two visitors to the area have lost their lives to such a tragedy today."

Both the Health And Safety Authority and the Gardaí are conducting investigations into the tragic incident.

Additional reporting: Laura Fletcher