Sunday 20 August 2017

Emotional tribute for hero captain Dara Fitzpatrick ahead of Ireland's clash with England

A general view of the big screen during a minute's silence prior to the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
A general view of the big screen during a minute's silence prior to the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Conor Neville

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick of Rescue 116 was honoured before kick-off in the Ireland-England match in the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.

There were emotional scenes in the packed stadium as a picture of Capt Fitzpatrick and her missing colleagues Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby was broadcast on the big screen before the game.

Captain Fitzpatrick died after Coastguard Rescue 116 crashed off the coast of Mayo on Tuesday.

A pilot of 25 years experience and a full-time member of the Coast Guard, Capt Fitzpatrick is survived by her three-year-old son, her parents, three sisters and one brother.

The search continues for the three remaining crew members - Mark Duffy, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby.

Sadly the surreal and protracted ending to the France-Wales game in Paris meant that RTE television viewers didn't see the one-minute applause.

The tribute was observed by the capacity crowd before the band struck up the national anthems.

Earlier today Ms Fitzpatrick was buried after a funeral service at St Patrick's Church in Glencullen, Co Dublin.

The funeral cortege arrived at 11am and was met by an honour guard from the Coast Guard and other rescue services.

Captain Fitpatrick's parents, four siblings, her young son Fionn, and other family members accompanied the coffin into the church.

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among those attending.

Rescue 117 did a flyby over the church in tribute to their fallen colleague.

The family of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick carry her coffin out of the church. Photo: David Conachy
The family of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick carry her coffin out of the church. Photo: David Conachy

In his homily, Fr. Andrew O’ Sullivan told mourners: "Dara’s tragic death has stunned all of us gathered here this morning. In particular, it has created a deep void in the lives of her loving family who are truly heartbroken. The reality of death with all its pain and sense of terrible loss, confronts us at this moment."

He told mourners Captain Fitzpatrick and her missing colleagues were heroes: "We are expressing gratitude to the Fitzpatrick family for moulding Dara into that wonderful young woman and mother that she was.  Over the last few days many stories have been told about Dara and how she was a wonderful colleague and friend and indeed of the incredible professionalism and bravery of those in the coastguard and in our emergency services. How these extraordinary people put their own lives at risk in order to save others – what bravery. And they truly are heroes."

He also spoke of Dara's other loves in life: "Dara loved travelling and had so many adventures. She was not only a professional and talented pilot and excelled in what she did, but also, a great horsewoman, she loved donkeys; a hillwalker and an adventurer.

"Dara was quite shy and she hated “small talk”. She was kind to her core and a champion of the underdog. She was fiercely loyal and her family was of paramount importance to her…. Her family describe her sense of humour as “goofy” and she had a great ability to find the fun in life. I know today, that Dara’s family take great consolation in the fact that she lived life to the full – she packed a lot in.

"Dara loved to cook and as her sisters say -  she was a feeder – she made a mean chocolate roulade for her work colleagues and for home. Dara loved her clothes and most especially her Gucci boots and her Tom Ford perfume. As her family put it: a beautiful young woman, who of course, got her looks from her family.

"The day Dara formally adopted Fionn was one of the happiest days of her life and that of her family. Fionn, now embodies Dara’s characteristics of family – he loves to and often instigates the family group hug – Dara adored Fionn."

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Picture: Collins
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Picture: Collins

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