Sunday 25 September 2016

'Caitriona was someone you could always depend upon'

Helen Walsh pays tribute to colleague Caitriona Lucas, who died during a Coast Guard search and rescue mission

Helen Walsh

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

Talented: Caitriona Lucas brought her artistic gifts into her work as a librarian in Clare
Talented: Caitriona Lucas brought her artistic gifts into her work as a librarian in Clare

CaitrIona Lucas worked for Clare County Library service from 2000 and was a dedicated, hard working and very talented person. She was originally recruited to work in Lisdoonvarna Library, but in time worked in both Ennistymon and Corofin branches. She was very talented artistically and brought this to all aspects of her library work. She was excellent with the public and to the fore in many programmes connected with children, literacy and reading in the library.

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She had just completed her first year of study for a BSc in Library and Information Studies, which would have given her a qualification in librarianship. She was dynamic and motivated and never once let aspects of her dual life interfere unduly with the other.

One imagines Caitriona coming to work in the library after possibly dangling off a cliff edge an hour earlier, and then sitting down with a group of children for story hour or an art and craft session. She would rarely, if ever, have mentioned the previous episode and had a modesty and humility that was remarkable.

Members of staff have paid the following tributes.

Helen Flynn, of Milltown Malbay Library, said: "She was a great colleague and friend and someone you could always depend on. No matter what time of the day or evening, you would ring her with a query, you could be certain she would sort it out straight away.

"In July 2014 she offered to come to Milltown Malbay library with one of her colleagues from Doolin Search and Rescue and give a water safety talk to children. On that day she brought along some of their equipment to demonstrate how it should be used and all the children got to try it. She did all of this on her own free time. Caitriona will be greatly missed by us all."

Our children's librarian Patricia Fitzgerald of Library HQ added: "Caitriona delighted in celebrating children's books and reading with the younger members of the libraries where she worked. Her expertise in art and craft was shared with children during the October book festival and the summer reading programme each year.

"She seized every opportunity to bring children and teenagers closer to books in planning activities to mark authors' birthdays and to celebrate Halloween, Christmas and Easter through children's literature. She began the first ever Lego club at Ennistymon Library and it was testament to her sense of sharing, the importance of working with others and having fun, that the club was oversubscribed on many occasions."

Brian Doyle of Library HQ said: "I had the honour of training Caitriona for her new role as branch librarian at Lisdoonvarna, which opened in its current location in 1999. Nicknamed 'The Gingerbread Library' owing to its compactness and wooded location, it was a fitting location for her to work given its popularity with children. It suited the inner child in Caitriona.

"The training process was effortless. From day one Caitriona was quick to learn, enthusiastic, organised and proactive, and her warmth with customers and staff was as natural as her ready smile; all qualities that Caitriona carried effortlessly through her short but inspiring life."

Caitriona is a huge loss to our Library Service. We cannot even begin to imagine the loss being felt by her immediate family and the members of the Irish Coast Guard.

Helen Walsh is Clare County Librarian

Sunday Independent

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