Monday 18 December 2017

Silent guard of honour united in grief as bodies are taken home

12/06/2013. News. Dunmore East Tragedy 3 lost. Pictured at Dunmore East harbour, Co Waterford where the bodies were brought ashore by the RNLI vessel to a waiting ambulance. Picture: Patrick Browne
12/06/2013. News. Dunmore East Tragedy 3 lost. Pictured at Dunmore East harbour, Co Waterford where the bodies were brought ashore by the RNLI vessel to a waiting ambulance. Picture: Patrick Browne
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A BURST of sunlight greeted the lifeboat as it arrived alongside the pier at Dunmore East, carrying the tragic victims of Ireland's latest sea-faring tragedy.

As many as 30 people, including family members, gathered on the quayside as the orange lifeboat arrived.

Some bowed their heads in grief, others prayed silently as the bodies were taken from the boat.

On the roadway above, locals from the small fishing town gathered also – a silent guard of honour for Waterford's latest loss at sea.

The only sound was that of the diesel marine engine and a few gulls sweeping wide loops above the dozens of large and small trawlers tied up side by side on the quayside.

Two ambulances were parked nearby and the bodies were transferred in silence and then driven to Waterford Regional Hospital.

The slow cortege passed the large monument to the previous dead claimed by the seas.

Almost instantly as the ambu-lances left and the crowd petered out, a heavy, soaking mist descended on Dunmore East, wrapping the fisherman's cottages and the bobbing masts in a soup-like murk.

Inside the harbour the water was calm but as soon as mourning relatives looked over the heavy stone wall it was clear that the sea was in a state of anger.

UPSET

Waves crashed over the rocks and the wind gathered pace.

Just a short distance around the headland was the little village of Passage East from, where the men left early yesterday.

Their small punt-sized boat, the 'Dean Leanne', set sail with three brothers aboard en route to lobster pots off Brownstown Head.

Last night the tiny gathering of houses was quiet, just a few men smoking cigarettes on the doorsteps of local pubs.

No one wished to comment.

One man wearing yellow sailing boots said: "We're too upset."

From the shores of Tramore Bay, Brownstown Head could be seen through the mist and rain.

Three large beacons marked the nearest landfall to where the men lost their lives.

All three were wearing life jackets when they were found and all three were on the surface when first spotted by a coastguard helicopter.

The exact spot where they died was just 500 metres from the sanctuary of the sandy beach and tall cliffs of the holiday resort of Tramore.

Irish Independent

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