A swimmer who died after getting into difficulty on the Bangor coast on Tuesday has been named locally as Mary Feeney.
Originally from Ardara in Co Donegal, she had established a career as a landscape artist and moved to Co Down several years ago.
A major rescue effort was launched shortly before noon on Tuesday after she got into difficulty while swimming along the coast of Skippingstone beach.
A regular participant in Bangor’s annual Open House Festival, she had also exhibited her work in galleries across Ireland, the UK and the United States.
Ulster Unionist councillor Carl McClean told the Belfast Telegraph said the local community was still in shock.
“It’s just horrible news, that whole area has been increasingly used by beach swimmers and it had been something we had hoped to develop as part of public realm works,” he said.
“It’s just the most dreadful shock in what is already the most difficult time.”
Praising the efforts of rescue workers, he added: “We get so used to hearing good news because of the efforts of the RNLI, but their commitment and bravery on Tuesday was just extraordinary.”
A spokesperson for The Open House Festival told Belfast Live: “We are all shocked and deeply saddened by this terrible news that Mary tragically lost her life this morning while out swimming so close to her home.
“Mary was a valued and talented artist and teacher. She will be missed by the local arts and cultural community here in Bangor.”
On Tuesday evening, members of RNLI Bangor extended their sympathies to the family and praised the bravery of one volunteer who had entered the water to rescue Ms Feeney despite turbulent conditions.
Although she was recovered from the water and assessed by paramedics she was declared dead at the scene.