Thursday 8 December 2016

'Coast guard services come together to mourn a member of the family' - Mourners pay respects to heroic volunteer Caitriona

Thousands turn out to sympathise with Caitriona’s husband and the couple’s two children

Published 14/09/2016 | 19:13

The remains of Caitríona Lucas are brought to the church in Liscannor, County Clare by her colleagues in Doolin search and rescue Pic: Mark Condren
The remains of Caitríona Lucas are brought to the church in Liscannor, County Clare by her colleagues in Doolin search and rescue Pic: Mark Condren

Thousands of mourners have turned out to pay their respects to the family of heroic volunteer coast guard, Caitriona Lucas.

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Ms Lucas is the first Irish Coastguard volunteer to lose her life in the course of her duties.

The 41 year old experienced coxswain lost her life on Monday, after the rescue boat overturned off the coast of Kilkee, Co Clare.

All evening long, mourners have been filing into the parish Church in Liscannor, the small village near the Cliffs of Moher, where she had lived with her family.

Amongst them are volunteers from coast guard units all around the country, sympathising with Caitriona’s husband, Bernard – also a coast guard volunteer at Doolin – as well as the couple’s two children, Ben and Emma.

One of the first groups to pay their respects was a group from the unit at Achill, Co Mayo.

Caitriona Lucas tragically lost her life at sea during search and rescue mission
Caitriona Lucas tragically lost her life at sea during search and rescue mission

There were also volunteers from the unit at Kilkee, Co Clare – which often works with the Doolin coast guards, where Caitriona Lucas had been based, as well as volunteers from Kilrush and many others.

Mattie Shannon, Officer in Charge (OIC) with Doolin Coast Guard said he was overwhelmed by the great outpouring of sympathy from around the country.

All coast guard services work in tandem and they have come together at this time to mourn a member of the family, he said.

Caitriona’s death had been a big loss, he said.

Caitriona Lucas (41) who died tragically in a rescue mission in Kilkee
Caitriona Lucas (41) who died tragically in a rescue mission in Kilkee

“She was such a fantastic person,” he said, adding that they could take solace from the fact that she had loved doing what she did.

Amongst the crowds, many had expressed gratitude for the work of the coast guards, Mr Shannon said, revealing that he had just met a woman whose husband was a fisherman the Doolin unit had rescued “six or seven years ago.”

Mr Shannon said the Doolin unit was one of the busiest in the country because “with the beauty comes the danger.”

The increasing popularity of the west coast means that the risk increases, he warned. The Doolin unit had received 57 calls so far this year – their busiest period to date.

Caitríona Lucas and her husband Bernard with their dogs
Caitríona Lucas and her husband Bernard with their dogs

Emotional, he said that the coast guard volunteers are proposing to meet back in a month’s time to reflect on Ms Lucas’ life and to just take time to be together.

The funeral will take place in the morning at Liscannor church in Clare.

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