Wednesday 26 April 2017

'Absolute gentleman' captain Mark Duffy was known for community work

Captain Mark Duffy Picture: Tom Conachy
Captain Mark Duffy Picture: Tom Conachy

Captain Mark Duffy joined the Coast Guard in 2002 while living in Blackrock, Co Louth with his wife Hermione.

The father-of-two had previously worked with the California Coast Guard in San Francisco for seven years after completing his training in the US.

The weekend before the fatal collision, Capt Duffy (51) was also involved in the helicopter rescue helping to save the lives of a father and son.

In an operation befitting his career, Capt Duffy was one of the first on scene in the Cooley Mountains in Louth when Donie and Dustin Marron had to be cut from their Robinson R-44 Clipper following a crash.

It was just one of the many life-saving cases the Rescue 116 crew responded to throughout their dedicated careers.

In January of this year, Rescue 116 helped save five fishermen from a sinking trawler off the Dublin coast. Heroic acts were an almost regular part of Capt Duffy and his colleagues' lives.

When Mark got his dream job as a Coast Guard pilot in Dublin, the family opted to base themselves again in ­Dundalk, near Hermione's dad, who lives in Omeath, and her mum in Gormanston.

A much-respected man in his community, Mark once surprised pupils in his son's school, St Francis National School, in 2015 by arriving in the Coast Guard's helicopter.

Senior investigators also praised the work done by Mark Duffy and his crew, with Supt Tony Healy saying: "These are a crew who have put their lives at risk day in day out for the Irish community."

According to locals, Capt Duffy was known for his community work on behalf of the Coast Guard, which the ­community of Blackrock is "very proud of".

Mary Moran, a teacher and former senator described him as "an absolute gentleman".

"We are absolutely devastated for his wife, his children, his mother and brothers and the whole family."

Cllr Mark Dearey, chairperson of the Dundalk Municipal District, previously said: "We are proud of him and people think of Mark and his colleagues are heroic.

"We are so aware that he put himself in danger to save others."

Capt Mark Duffy, a co-pilot aboard the Rescue 116 aircraft, is survived by his wife, Hermione, daughter Esme (14) and son Fionn (12).

Irish Independent

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