Friday 19 April 2019

Tributes on Rescue 116 anniversary

John Manning

Tributes were paid this past week to a local hero as the second anniversary occurred of the tragic loss of Ciaran Smith and three of his fellow crew members of Rescue Helicopter 116 off the Mayo Coast.

Last year, Team Invictus was formed in honour of Ciaran Smith and took part in the Race Around Ireland, a race he completed as a solo competitor.

The team was made up of family, friends and colleagues of the Coast Guard winchman from Oldtown and Team Invictus had one simple request for everyone remembering Ciaran, two years after he was lost at sea.

They asked that we all: 'For one moment, walk outside, stand there in silence, look up at the sky and remember how brave they were.'

And that is exactly what many of us did all over the country, particularly in Blacksod in County Mayo where families of the lost crew gathered to remember their loved ones close to the spot where they were lost.

At Dublin Airport, the current crew of Rescue 116 paid tribute to their colleagues, saying on the eve of the anniversary: 'As tonight passes into tomorrow, two years ago, we lost four dear friends.

'We will never forget, we will always remember.

'Equally we will never forget the support we received, we still receive, from here at home and from abroad.

'We are humbled by it, we are inspired by it, we are grateful for it.'

The Coast Guard crew said: 'We'd also like to take this opportunity to ask of you three things.

'Spare a thought over the next 24 hours for our four friends, their loved ones & all those affected by their loss.

'Spare a thought for all our Emergency Services as they go about their work, sometimes in the harshest of conditions.'

Ciaran's beloved Wild Geese GAA Club in Oldtown bore his picture on all their social media outlets on the anniversary.

The club said simply they would 'remember four heroes who departed our shores two years ago and never came home'.

What happened on that fateful day two years ago continues to impact the small community of Oldtown and far beyond - we will remember them.

Fingal Independent