The Air India Flight 182 disaster off the southwest coast happened 35 years ago this week when on June 23, 1985, a passenger jet travelling from Toronto to London on route to Bombay exploded in the sky over Castletownbere, killing all 329 passengers and crew on board. Sikh extremists were later accused of bringing down the Air India aircraft.
It's hard to countenance the horrific scenes in the aftermath as dead bodies and debris were removed from the water in the hours and days following the explosion when a joint recovery operation involving local RNLI units, Irish Navy and Royal Navy was put in place.
The Kerryman photographer Michelle Cooper Galvin recalls being at home in Killarney on the evening of the explosion minding her children when a call came through from the late Seamus McConville, editor of The Kerryman, asking her to head to Valentia where the RNLI was due to land with dead bodies.
Valentia RNLI had already been several hours searching for bodies off the Kerry coast when Michelle and her husband Dermot headed for Valentia. Michelle says that in all her 40 years as a press photographer the Air India tragedy was 'the worst' she had witnessed.
"The bodies of six people were literally at my feet. It was the worst story I've covered, it was devastating. We went down that night and I remember meeting a Paddy Gallagher from the RNLI in Valentia who was a great organiser. We were put up in a hotel for the night," said Michelle.
"People were on standby all through the night waiting for the call to say the boat was approaching. This was early in the morning and I can still see myself standing on the pier watching the lifeboat coming in and the bodies in black bags lined along the side of the boat. It was an awful sight," Michelle said.
Being a mother to two small children at the time, Michelle explains how the sight of children in body bags had a lasting impact on her.
"I got very upset at that point. There was a channel down both sides of the lifeboat where the bodies were laid out. It was all Valentia islanders that lifted those bodies from the boat.
"I remember the local doctor and cleric going on-board to talk to the crew. It was very upsetting for them. The army put the bodies onto a truck to take them to Cork Regional Hospital."
The disaster went down as the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history, but it would also have a profound effect on local communities near the coast. Some 131 bodies were retrieved in the days following the crash as the victims' families came to the southwest to be reunited with the remains of loved ones.
In 2006 a Canadian Commission set up an inquiry into the attack. Publication of its report in 2010 cited a lapse in intelligence communication into terrorist activities that overlooked the plot to bring down Flight 182.
Today a sundial monument at Ahakista, Co Cork, sculpted by Ken Thompson, serves as a reminder of the tragedy. It was donated by the people of Canada, India and Ireland, and a yearly commemoration still takes place at the site.
"The local people of Valentia were absolutely marvellous during it all. It was a very tough assignment for the local RNLI as they were all young men who were out searching for hours. It was very moving. Often when I'm down in that part of the county doing jobs I will think of that morning," Michelle said.