Fisherman Willie Whelan, who was missing for almost three weeks after his trawler sank early this month, has been buried in Co Wexford.

Funeral mass for the 41-year-old took place this afternoon in Poulfur, not far from his native Saltmills.

A large crowd braved the wet, cold weather to pack into the church and outside for the ceremony, which took place three days after the popular fisherman's body was recovered from the sea.

Mourners were led by his wife Mandy, parents, step-daughter Lily-Mae and brothers along with many other family members, friends, colleagues in the fishing industry, and neighbours also turning out to pay their respects.

"Sad news reached our shore here back in early January and over the intervening weeks there have been many anguished moments as we all prayed and hoped and wished for the very best," Parish Priest Fr Michael Doyle said in his homily.

"Eventually it became clear that a rescue mission was going to become a search mission. There have been so many who have poured out themselves and given themselves for William and who have also been a great strength and a source of hope, especially for his beloved family."

The family is now grieving for the loss of a husband, father, son, brother, nephew, great friend and shipmate, Fr Doyle said.

Joe Sinnott, 65, who also died when the Alize sank on the night of 4 January when returning to harbour after the two friends and workmates had been out scallop fishing, was buried in Kilmore in Co Wexford on 8 January.

Fr Doyle pointed out how close the two were for 20 years, working together but also friends, united by their love of the sea and of fishing.

"Just as they were in life, so they are in death."

A major search had since taken place for Mr Whelan's body and involved the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI volunteers, members of the public, search and rescue helicopter crews, gardaí, and the naval service.

After extensive work by the naval service diving unit, an accurate location for the wreck of the Alize was pinpointed south of Hook Head.

Members of the Garda Sub-Aqua Unit undertook a number of dives early last week and established a line from the surface to the trawler and Willie Whelan's body was located on Wednesday by members of the Hook Sub-Aqua Club.

The naval diving unit then carried out several dives on Thursday and Friday morning before recovering his body on Friday, allowing it to be brought ashore at Rosslare that night.

In a eulogy at the end of the funeral mass, family friend and former TD Hugh Byrne paid tribute to the many people who were involved in the search and recovery operation, "one of the country's most extensive searches".

He also spoke of the joy and relief last week when Willie's body was located and then recovered.