A community is in shock and a family in mourning after the body of a heavily pregnant woman was found in the Irish Sea.

Anna Byrne, a 35-year-old Dubliner living in the Meath village of Dunboyne, was due to give birth to twins next week.

Her family launched a desperate search when she failed to pick up one of her other two young children from a crèche on Wednesday.

Police have confirmed that her body was found near the Bailey lighthouse off Howth, north county Dublin, by a helicopter at dawn on Friday.

Officers had earlier traced a signal from Byrne’s mobile phone to the harbour town of Dun Laoghaire.

Her brother Ciaran Deeney led the search. He said on Thursday that his sister was ‘highly hormonal’ due to her pregnancy and it was uncharacteristic of her to vanish.

The family have asked for privacy as police treat the incident as a personal tragedy according to the Irish Independent newspaper.

Byrne’s Nissan Micra car was found at the summit car park at Howth Head around midnight on Wednesday.

Meath councillor Maria Murphy told the paper that Byrne and her family had lived in the area for the past five years.

“People are just shocked. It’s your worst nightmare,” she told the Irish Independent. “Everyone is very sympathetic to what the family is going through.”

The body of Anna Byrne a 35-year-old Dubliner living in the Meath village of Dunboyne was found in HowthCrime.ie