Saturday 24 June 2017

Special week in village cut short by terrible accident

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THERE was more rain forecast in Glengarriff yesterday. It did little to lift the gloom in this Cork village where the sense of shock and despair over the death of three locals is deep and heartfelt.

The tragedy off Roancarraig Lighthouse by Berehaven Bay still hadn't sunk in.

This was supposed to be a special week for the people here, a community celebrating the 90th birthday of Hollywood icon and local resident, Maureen O'Hara.

But around the pubs and cafes yesterday, the boat tragedy was the only subject being discussed.

One of the deceased was retired farmer Richard Harman (69) and the other two men, Wolfgang 'Mike' Schmidt (64) and Wolfgang Schroder (60), were retired Germans who had made themselves valued members of the local social scene.

Mr Harman was planning to celebrate his 70th birthday next week.

He had told friends over the course of the past fortnight that he was going out to sea on Monday "fishing with some gentlemen friends".

He was also planning to attend a special jazz concert in Glengarriff on Thursday night -- and had already arranged his tickets.

The event has now been cancelled as a mark of respect to all three men.

Friends of Mr Harman's son, William, said he was "absolutely heartbroken" by the tragedy.

Glengarriff Tourism Development Association official, Andrew O'Shea, said the village had lost colourful and hugely popular characters.

"It is very hard when characters that you have seen every day for 20 or 25 years of your life are just swept away like this," Mr O'Shea said.

"It is terrible -- I knew Richard and Mike very well. They were lovely men and did a lot to support the village.

"Richard was at virtually every event organised in the village -- he was a great man to support the local community.

"Mike was also a great guy -- he was a former sea captain on tankers. He travelled all over the world but he absolutely loved it here. It is terrible for his wife," he added.

Farmer Pat O'Neill once worked with Mr Harman -- and said he was the kind of man everyone loved working alongside.

"He worked for me way back in the 1970s -- he used to do machinery work. He was a lovely gent," he added.

Mr Harman was a devoted supporter of the clean-up and maintenance campaigns for the historic Adrigole cemetery -- a spot now likely to be his last resting place.

Hotelier Donal Casey said Monday's event had left a huge chasm in the local community.

"(They) would always put a smile on people's faces -- they were great friends and neighbours."

There was also massive sympathy and support for American Edward 'Ed' Dziato (46), who was the only survivor of Monday's tragic accident.

Mr Dziato and his wife, Judy, relocated to west Cork from Connecticut four years ago and are neighbours of Mr Schmidt some 3km outside Glengarriff village.

Yesterday, Mr Dziato was recovering at home from his ordeal having been released yesterday morning from hospital after his dramatic rescue from the freezing waters in which his three friends died.

Callers to his house were advised yesterday that he was not up to receiving visitors.

"It must be terrible for the poor man -- everyone in the village is praying for him after what he went through," one local in Eccles Hotel said.

Irish Independent

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