Day 125, Saturday 6 May
Yesterday, I made little reference to any recent Lifeboat activity at Achill Island. There was much discussion, from their perspective, of the recent tragic loss of life of the crew of the Irish Coastguard helicopter, Rescue 116.
The incident occurred mid way between Achill Island and the Mullet Peninsula, at Black Rock. With Achill ALB more than 20 miles to the south and east and Ballyglass ALB a similar distance to the north and East, both Lifeboats were called to assist in the search for the missing helicopter and crew. The recovery of the bodies of two Coastguard colleagues, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy would have been traumatic enough. The fact that the other two, Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby, are still missing, must be even more distressing, especially for the families concerned. There are a few suggested theories as to the cause of the crash, but this is neither the time nor the place to speculate. As I write, search initiatives continue. No doubt a thorough, expert analysis will be completed before a report is published. With the great advances made in maritime rescue equipment and procedures over the decades, a multiple loss of the lives of volunteer crews is thanfully, now very rare, with the last loss of an entire crew being that of the Penlee Lifeboat in 1981.
Today, the RNLI flags, as witnessed here at Ballyglass, still fly at half mast. I don’t envy the person who has to make the decision to hoist them aloft, whilst Ciaran and Paul are still out there, somewhere.
My thanks today to the good people of Bellmullet and Ballyglass Lifeboat. A great welcome and kind support indeed, from Padraig Kelleher (crew), who rescued me in Belmullet, Marie, Mary (Fundraising Committee), Tony, Dan (DLA) and Eddy (ex crew and now Fundraising committee, for the full tour, including the ALB Station). Thanks to you all for sorting my accommodation for tonight, with Tommy, landlord of The Talbot in Belmullet. A more than kind gesture. The Talbot is truly an amazing place!
Meanwhile, the sense of loss here still hangs heavily.. but the crews of these two flanking Lifeboat Stations are still up & running, the crews’ pagers attached to belts, ready to treat the next “shout” as important as the last.
Don’t forget, you can show your support for these volunteer crews by clicking HERE and donating to the RNLI on line. You’d also help increase the chances of me reaching my RNLI fundraising target!