Seaside towns plunged into grief at death of mother-of-two
Seaside towns dotted along the coast of Clare are in a state of profound grief following the tragic death of mother-of-two and coast guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas.
Family members and colleagues of Ms Lucas (41) had gathered in numbed shock by the shore in Kilkee, anxiously awaiting news after the three-person crew were plunged into the sea when their boat capsized during a search and rescue mission.
There were heartbreaking scenes on the shoreline as news trickled through that the body of Ms Lucas had been recovered.
Her colleague, Jenny Carway, was safely taken from the water and rushed to Limerick hospital. Hours later, there was some relief for friends and colleagues of the crew with the news that James Lucey had been rescued.
Local TD Timmy Dooley attended the scene yesterday to be with the volunteers' family and friends on the shoreline.
"It brings into stark focus how volunteers risk their lives on a daily basis; 99 out of 100 times they get home safely, but then we have days like this," Mr Dooley said. "We all owe these volunteers a huge debt of gratitude for the work they do and the risks they take on."
Cllr Bill Slattery had been involved in the initial search for missing teacher David McMahon, which prompted the coast guard rescue mission.
"The mood was sombre when we were looking for David, but this additional tragedy has just left people numbed," he said.
The search for Mr McMahon was called off last night and will resume this morning. However, a number of volunteers continued to search beaches in the area last night.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a statement praising the "heroic and selfless" work of the Irish Coast Guard.
"To learn of the death of Caitriona, and of injury to her colleagues brings home the real dangers our rescue personnel face and this awful news casts a dark shadow over people all over the island," he said.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said that Caitriona was a member of an "extraordinary group of men and women" who volunteer for coast guard duties.
"This is an appalling tragedy - the loss of a brave and valiant woman engaged in the most heroic of and unselfish of duties," he added.