Communities touched by tragedy provide food and support for search teams

Seosaimh McGintí , Maire Uí Ruadhain and Mary Mallon who are helping out at Blacksod Heritage Centre providing food and tea for emergency services and people involved in the search for Rescue 116

Robin Schiller

The communities of Blacksod and nearby Eachleim have witnessed more than enough tragedies in recent years.

This may help to explain the fortitude and generos- ity of spirit they have shown in the wake of the Rescue 116 crash.

"We've been feeding the families of the missing members, the rescue workers and the gardai," said Maire Ui Ruadhain, of the local heritage centre.

"Since we got the sad news on Tuesday morning, the doors were open.

"Everybody pulled up their sleeves and got together and started working, and the comm- unity has been overwhelming. There's been food coming in from every corner."

Ms Ruadhain, who has lived in the area all her life, said the community has been "shattered" by the tragedy.

"This is the worst one we've had. We've had single cases, we've had other tragedies, suicides, other incidents, but this is the biggest one because there are four," she said.

"The community has been shattered by this. You hear of it happening around the country, but when it comes on your own doorstep it hits you hard."

A group of volunteers and staff have been working around the clock to provide food and comfort to those affected most by the tragedy.

On Wednesday, 120 people were catered for. That figure rose consider- ably yesterday.


The goodwill and desire to help extended to local fishermen, whose vessels have been used for the past four days to help recover debris.

It was also evident in the volunteers of the Civil Defence, who have been working long days in the search for R116 and its three missing crew members.

Civil Defence Officer Rose Doherty, who has been working with the service for nine years, said her Castlebar-based volunteers were ready at a moment's notice, prepared to take time off work to be part of the search operation.

"I sent out a text on Tuesday evening and I had 18 volunteers ready to depart from Castlebar," she said.

"Some of them actually gave up a day's work to be here.

"I've had numerous phone calls from people asking if they're needed on St Patrick's Day. They've said they will be available."

Coast guard workers have said that no sonar scans or dives will take place until at least Sunday afternoon.