Sunday 22 July 2018

Emotional tributes to victims 50 years after Tuskar air crash

Family members drop flowers in memory of loved ones who died in the crash at Tuskar Rock Photos: Patrick Browne
Family members drop flowers in memory of loved ones who died in the crash at Tuskar Rock Photos: Patrick Browne
Tuskar Rock Photos: Patrick Browne
Wreckage from the Vickers Viscount aircraft is brought ashore at Rosslare in 1968 Photos: Patrick Browne
Wreckage from the Vickers Viscount aircraft is brought ashore at Rosslare in 1968 Photos: Patrick Browne
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A woman who lost her father in the Tuskar Rock air tragedy when she was just nine years old joined with other bereaved families to pay an emotional tribute to the victims of Ireland's worst domestic aviation accident.

Hilary Nunan joined her mother Mary at the Church of the Assumption in Ballyphehane, Co Cork, for a special 50th memorial Mass for the 61 people who died when Flight 712 crashed into the Irish Sea off the Wexford coast on March 24, 1968.

Among the victims was the then parish priest of Ballyphehane, Fr Edward 'Eddie' Hegarty. The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, lost several friends in the tragedy, including Fr Hegarty.

Shock

Ms Nunan remembers going to Cork Airport that March 24 day to wave goodbye to her father, Noel, who worked for oil giant Shell. "It was such a shock. We all went to the airport and Dad said goodbye to each and every one of us individually," she said.

"When we got home, we got the news from a neighbour who had heard [about the air crash] on the radio."

She said an important part of dealing with the tragedy was getting to know the other bereaved families.

"The 30th anniversary was the first time that we met all the relatives. Because prior to that we just grieved on our own. Now it is like meeting family again," she said.

Her mother Mary revealed that she and Noel were teenage sweethearts.

"[Noel] was a wonderful husband and father - that is exactly what he was. We think of him a lot," she said.

As well as the Ballyphehane tribute, a special ceremony was organised on Saturday in Wexford.

In Cork, the famous Shandon bells were sounded 61 times - once for every life lost 50 years ago.

Another ceremony was held at Teagasc's Moorepark research centre in memory of three former staff, Michael Cowhig, Thomas Dwane and John Nyhan, who also died in the tragedy.

The precise cause of the tragedy remains unknown, with a number of theories ranging from a bird strike to catastrophic failure involving part of the plane's fuselage, and even an errant British missile.

Irish Independent

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