Wednesday 18 September 2019

Beacon of hope: Fastnet lighthouse keeper honoured in portrait

Bravery: Gerald Butler next to the portrait of him painted for the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet disaster. Photo: Dan Llywelyn Hall/PA Wire
Bravery: Gerald Butler next to the portrait of him painted for the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet disaster. Photo: Dan Llywelyn Hall/PA Wire

Aoife Moore

A former lighthouse keeper has been honoured at a commemorative event marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Fastnet race disaster.

A portrait of Gerald Butler by Welsh artist Dan Llywelyn Hall was unveiled on Sunday on Cape Clear in Co Cork, as friends and families remembered the men and women who died in the yacht race.

Tributes were also paid to those who risked their lives to rescue the sailors.

A total of 19 people - 15 sailors and four spectators - died in the Irish Sea in August 1979 when a freak storm wreaked havoc with more than 300 yachts.

Mr Butler, who worked on remote lighthouses including on Skellig Michael, was on duty on Fastnet island that fateful night.

A message from President Michael D Higgins was read out at the ceremony.

He said: "During this decade of commemorations, it is important more than ever that we honour the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet disaster and most importantly, that the actions and bravery of the Baltimore Lifeboat crew as well as Mr Gerald Butler, the serving lighthouse keeper at Fastnet Rock at the time of the disaster, are never forgotten."

Irish Independent

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