Monday 16 July 2018

Lights in the dark recall bravery of tragic R116 crew

Winchman Ciarán Smith’s wife Martina and daughter Shannon (11) place a wreath on the helipad during the Memorial Mass for the crew of Rescue 116 at Blacksod Lighthouse. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Winchman Ciarán Smith’s wife Martina and daughter Shannon (11) place a wreath on the helipad during the Memorial Mass for the crew of Rescue 116 at Blacksod Lighthouse. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Robin Schiller

Death came "like a thief in the night" to the crew of Rescue 116 as tragedy struck one year ago, an anniversary mass heard.

Poignant services took place on the Mullet peninsula in Co Mayo from the early hours of yesterday morning in memory of the Coast Guard volunteers who lost their lives on March 14, 2017.

Pilot Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Mark Duffy, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby were on board the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter when it crashed into Blackrock island.

A memorial Mass took place at St Brendan's Church, Tirrane, at 10am with more than 300 family, loved ones and colleagues of the Rescue 116 crew gathered. The chief celebrants were Fr John Loftus, Fr Kevin Hegarty and Fr Stephen Duffy, who is the uncle of crew member Mark Duffy.

Recalling the events of March 14 last year, Fr Hegarty said that death "can come like a thief in the night ... and so it did".

"Today, we gather one year later to remember first of all the four who lost their lives. They gave their lives to serve and to save, and they died in the course of their duties."

Members of the search and rescue agencies carry wreaths alongside family members at Blacksod lighthouse. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Members of the search and rescue agencies carry wreaths alongside family members at Blacksod lighthouse. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A wreath-laying service took place at Blacksod lighthouse, from where the search and rescue operation was co-ordinated last year. Five wreaths, representing the R116 crew members and a fifth for the late Doolin Coast Guard volunteer Catriona Lucas, were laid by family members.

Earlier yesterday more than 100 relatives and colleagues of the crew attended a candle-lit vigil. The event began shortly before 12.46am - the last time the helicopter appeared on the radar.

Four lights lit up from Glosh Tower across Blacksod Bay, one each representing a member of the Rescue 116 crew.

Members of the Naval Service transfer wreaths to the LÉ Niamh which brought them to Blackrock Island. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Members of the Naval Service transfer wreaths to the LÉ Niamh which brought them to Blackrock Island. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Irish Independent

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