Thursday 29 September 2016

Daughter of man (27) who drowned in fishing tragedy raises awareness

Published 27/04/2015 | 11:34

Portrush RNLI mechanic Anthony Chambers alongside Sally and Eimear McDaid from Donegal who are helping to raise funds for the lifeboat charity. Photo: RNLI/PA Wire
Portrush RNLI mechanic Anthony Chambers alongside Sally and Eimear McDaid from Donegal who are helping to raise funds for the lifeboat charity. Photo: RNLI/PA Wire

The daughter of a man who drowned in a fishing tragedy almost 28 years ago has said people should be more aware of the dangers posed by the sea.

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David McDaid, 27, from Glengad in Malin, Co Donegal, was among four fishermen killed when their vessel the Boy Shaun went down on September 20, 1987.

His daughter Eimear, who was just six weeks old at the time, said: "It was a tragedy that changed the course of life for my mother and me.

"I have grown up without a father and without answers as to what caused the boat to sink on what was described as such an idyllic fishing day."

The weather was mild and water calm when the crew of the Boy Shaun set off from Portaleen Pier headed for Inishtrahull Island off the coast of Malin Head in search of crab.

They were not wearing life jackets.

Ms McDaid said she hopes that speaking out about her loss will raise awareness about the risks of open water.

"As a result of the tragedy we have a healthy respect for the sea," she added. "I t is a powerful force and one not to be reckoned with. Four very experienced fishermen paid the ultimate price 28 years ago.

"We can only hope by sharing our story that we can encourage others to respect the water too, to wear life jackets and to support those who work to help save lives at sea."

Only one person survived the sinking of the Boy Shaun. He was found clinging to a short plank of wood from the stricken vessel amid pieces of debris and an oil slick.

Two bodies, including the remains of Mr McDaid, were pulled from the water while two others were found recovered several months later on the coast of Scotland.

Anthony Chambers, from Portrush, Co Antrim, who was part of the Portrush RNLI response crew, said he has never forgotten the incident.

He said: "In the 28 years that have passed, our lifeboat crews have been on many call-outs in all sorts of weathers and have faced many different types of conditions.

"Thankfully, we have been able to save lives and bring many people to safety and that is always rewarding.

"However, it still remains just as difficult for us now as it did then, if we have to return to shore knowing that a family has lost a loved one, and this tragedy serves as a poignant reminder of that."

Ms McDaid and her mother Sally have pledged their support for the RNLI's Mayday fundraising campaign which runs from Friday May 1 to Monday May 4.

She said: "We know first-hand the importance of having a dedicated lifeboat service. My father wasn't saved that day, but thousands of other fathers, men and women have been brought home safe through their bravery. Each person they have brought back is a family member brought home."

Last year, RNLI lifeboat crews from Ireland's 45 lifeboat stations launched 1,089 times, rescuing 1,414 people.

To donate and for ideas on how to get involved with the Mayday campaign, visit www.rnli.org/MAYDAY.

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