Fishermen searching for seafood off Ireland's north coast have scooped up a Christmas gift from the deep - coal from a ship blown up 10 years ago by the IRA.

"The coal is a bit sparky with all the salt in it and you have to take out a few crabs and shells but otherwise it's grand," said Brian Thompson, a coal merchant who has been selling batches of it."Everyone is saying isn't it great that Christmas has come early this year. Quite a few of the fishermen are taking the coal home for their families too," he said from the picturesque port of Moville.

The locals in a depressed area with high unemployment have welcomed the coal as a timely gift to warm their homes. Most fishermen sign on for unemployment benefit checks every week.