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Bernard Lucas on Doolin Coast Guard and Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the Caitriona Lucas Challenge

7th June 2022
Irish Coast Guard Doolin volunteers Bernard and the late Caitriona Lucas on a training run
Irish Coast Guard Doolin volunteers Bernard and the late Caitriona Lucas on a training run

On June 25th, Clare coast guard volunteer Bernard Lucas, along with Cormac Coyne of Inis Oir and Eoin Keane from Kilfenora will set out to climb 5,895 metres (19,341 feet) to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

The trio are making the ascent for the Caitriona Lucas Challenge, with funds going to the Burren Chernobyl Project. The challenge is named after Bernard’s late wife, Caitriona, who lost her life off the Clare coast on September 12th, 2016 - the first Irish Coast Guard volunteer to die while on a call-out.

Bernard spoke to Wavelengths this week about the climb, about the situation with Doolin Coast Guard where he and nine other volunteers were dismissed, and about many unanswered questions relating to Caitriona’s death.

Listen to Wavelengths below

Asked to respond to Bernard’s appeal for Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton to meet the Doolin Coast Guard unit, her department said that the Coast Guard is “currently fully engaged in the process of rebuilding the Doolin Unit, guided by the recommendations outlined in Kieran Mulvey’s report, issued on December 10th 2021.

“We can confirm that the selection of volunteers to provide service to the re-constituted unit on an interim basis as per the report recommendations was completed and those selected were informed,” it said.

Cormac Coyne (left) and Bernard Lucas, in training for the Caitriona Lucas Challenge to Mount Kilimanjaro in June 2022Cormac Coyne (left) and Bernard Lucas, in training for the Caitriona Lucas Challenge to Mount Kilimanjaro in June 2022

“We can now confirm that management within the Coast Guard has commenced the process of recruitment to the Doolin Unit on a permanent basis. We can also confirm they have recently been in contact with all former volunteers in relation to this recruitment process,” the department said.

“The minister and the Coast Guard are fully engaged in this process and are very committed to ensuring Doolin Coast Guard Unit’s continued growth and renewal,” it continued.

“The minister meets with and engages with Coast Guard Unit volunteers on a regular basis and will also meet with Doolin Coast Guard Unit volunteers as part of this continuous engagement,” it said.

Details of the Caitriona Lucas Challenge to Mount Kilimanjaro are here

Caitriona and Bernard Lucas, Newfoundland, in October 2014Caitriona and Bernard Lucas, Newfoundland, in October 2014

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...