The Canadian Coast Guard says a hard hat encrusted in coral, barnacles and worms that washed up on a beach on the southeastern coast of Ireland likely came from Newfoundland.

Craig Butler, 21, a resident of the town of Tramore, found the hard hat washed up on the beach when he came in from surfing at Tramore Beach on Christmas Eve.

The Canadian Coast Guard says given the colour of the hard hat, it would have been worn by a senior response officer in the environmental response unit.

"It is not uncommon for an officer to lose a hat at sea in extreme weather," said spokesperson Jazmine Hayden in an email.

"We can also infer from prevailing winds and currents that the hat likely came from the Canadian Coast Guard's Atlantic Region, likely from Newfoundland."

By the time Butler came across the hard hat, its smell wasn't pleasant.

"Once the smell hit me, I put it straight down. It smelled like something had died," he told CBC News on Wednesday.

Butler took the hard hat and placed it on a seawall at the beach. He pondered taking it home with him, but figured he'd have to fumigate his family's home if he did that.

Craig Butler

Craig Butler of Tramore, Ireland, found the hard hat when it first washed up on the beach. (Submitted by Craig Butler)

Once at home, Butler Googled the Latin words found on the helmet and realized the hard hat belonged to the Canadian Coast Guard.

At some point, somebody took some photos of the hard hat and they were uploaded to a community Facebook page, Waterford In Your Pocket. It isn't clear where the hard hat is now.

Butler says he has found other things on the beach before, such as fishing gloves and buckets.

"Normally, the furthest away that I found something is in France or Spain. You know, we'd never get something to wash up from as far away as Canada," he said.