Sunday 19 November 2017

Caitríona and her husband did everything as a team

Mattie Shannon, Office in Charge of Doolin Coast Guard, with a model boat that Caitríona Lucas made. Photo: Mark Condren
Mattie Shannon, Office in Charge of Doolin Coast Guard, with a model boat that Caitríona Lucas made. Photo: Mark Condren

Laura Larkin in Kilkee

The coast guard station in Doolin became the focal point for the community to gather around and grieve in the wake of the tragic loss.

Devastated colleagues of coast guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas comforted each other over endless cups of tea.

So many people from the community knew the mother of two and appreciated her hard work and dedication to the volunteer work.

Caitríona is a presence that will be missed in the station. Reminders of her are dotted all around. In one corner, there is a scale model of a coast guard boat she lovingly created for the station.

Caitríona - who worked as a librarian - was keen to educate local children about water safety and she organised an art competition to encourage awareness. These framed pictures decorate the inside of the station.

Such was her involvement, Caitríona held every position in the coast guard possible except for Officer in Charge, which one colleague said last night she probably only needed another year or two to achieve.

Caitríona's husband has been involved in the unit for 15 years and his colleagues said they would now band together and support him as best they could.

The couple, who had been together since their schooldays and had travelled the world together, were described as a pair "who lived in each other's pockets and did everything as a team".

As her friends and teammates struggled to come to terms with what had unfolded, a painful reminder came in the form of her missing rescue suit.

A spot for her gear, alongside her husband Bernard's, was empty last night. Meanwhile, it was a sombre scene at the shoreline at the Kilkee Cliff walk yesterday as people pointed out the intensity of the waves crashing below.

The vicious Atlantic Ocean had cost a young coast guard volunteer her life. And still there was a young man missing. Early on Tuesday morning many of those who had witnessed the harrowing scenes at the famous Kilkee Cliff walk were back on site to continue searching for David McMahon.

Hundreds of people have been out to help search for the missing teacher.

The Clare Civil Defence took charge of the search and rescue mission, opting to use a drone to search the area instead of risking entering the sea where conditions were still perilous.

The new technology allowed members of the team to examine live footage, while another team member navigated the drone. Although volunteers were asked to avoid the cliffs yesterday dozens still turned out to help continue the search for Mr McMahon.

"It's just unbelievable what happened," one man said, as he walked the path with binoculars. "It's just heaped tragedy on top of tragedy."

Irish Independent

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