Dublin police are confident that DNA testing will help with their bid to identify a human leg found washed up on a popular beach.

The leg, identified as that of a woman, was found on Bull Island north of Dublin city centre after a dog attracted its owner to the limb.

Police were called and sealed off the area before the leg was taken to the city morgue in nearby Marino according to a report in the Irish Times.

Police sources have told the paper that the limb is that of a woman who had been alive until very recently.

The source said: “The leg may have been in the water for less than 24 hours given the minimal levels of decay.

“Missing person’s reports for women who have disappeared in recent days are being examined in an effort to narrow down the list of possible identities.

“We are examining if someone might have jumped off a boat or may have entered the water recently to take their own lives and their body was then caught in a boat’s propellers.”

Investigators are keeping an open mind on the case and could not discount the possibility that the deceased had met with foul play before the limb was severed from her remains in the water.

The report says the leg has been examined by a pathologist and DNA and blood samples have been extracted.

These samples will now be sent to other jurisdictions to be cross-checked with DNA databases. No such facility exists in the Republic of Ireland.

Dollymount Strand where the female's leg was washed ashore