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#Coastguard - Two new postage stamps in tribute to the Irish Coast Guard are based on a painting by a volunteer who died in service, as the Sunday Independent reports.

The painting by Caitríona Lucas, who died during a rescue operation off Kilkee in September 2016, has been adapted into a tribute to both her and the crew of the coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 who were lost in March 2017.

Two stamps show separately a rendering of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, and an Irish Coast Guard rescue boat similar to what Caitríona had crewed.

The commemorative stamps were launched at the GPO last week by members of the coastguard and Caitríona’s widower Bernard.

In a joint statement, coastguard units in Skerries, Dun Laighaire and Greystones said their thoughts are with the families of Caitríona, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith.

“This gesture by An Post is heartwarming to us all,” they added.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - There was no evidence of effective management at Kilkee’s coastguard station when volunteer Caitríona Lucas died during a rescue operation almost two years ago, according to a draft report into the incident.

The Irish Times has details of the draft report from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), which adds that the RIB on which Lucas was travelling before it capsized on 12 September 2016 was being used outside of the Irish Coast Guard’s own operational limits.

Parallels were also drawn to a similar incident two years prior involving a coastguard RIB in a “surf zone” near Dingle, which prompted a series of recommendation that were not “fully implemented” by the Irish Coast Guard, according to the MCIB.

The Irish Times has much more on the story, while Lorna Siggins also writes on how Lucas’ death occurred amid a tumultuous time for the Co Clare coastguard unit.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Next year’s commemorative stamp programme from An Post will feature a tribute to the four coastguard crew lost in the Rescue 116 tragedy one year ago.

RTÉ News reports that Caitriona Lucas, the coastguard volunteer who died during a rescue mission in September 2016, will be included as part of a series paying tribute to the work of the Irish Coast Guard.

Among other stamps due in 2019 will be one to mark 100 years since the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Galway by British aviators Alcock and Brown.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard management faced a protest march at the weekend over Kilkee’s lack of a full rescue service — and one restricted further since the death last year of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas, as The Irish Times reports.

Locals were demonstrating for the second time this month over what former mayor Manuel di Lucia said was an issue that dated back to when the Irish Coast Guard took over the Co Clare’s town’s community lifeboat in 2013.

The paper’s sources allege inconsistent management and a lack of training and qualified crew compounded the situation that led to the death of Lucas, when the RIB she was travelling in capsized during a search operation. Her bravery at sea was recognised with a posthumous award of the State's highest honour earlier this month.

The Irish Times has much more on the protest, which came on the same weekend that Lucas and the lost crew of Rescue 116 were remembered at a memorial service for those who died in the Cleggan Bay Disaster in 1927.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - The late Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas has been recognised in this year’s National Bravery Awards.

The Posthumous Gold Medal and Certificate of Bravery were presented to Lucas’ family at Farmleigh House yesterday (Friday 20 October) a year after she died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

“Catriona’s courage and selfless action on that day says everything about her — her strength of character and spirit and willingness to help others,” said Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó’ Fearghaíl, who presented the awards to 15 recipients.

“It is also a reminder of how committed and brave members of our emergency services put their lives on the line on a daily basis to help and protect their communities.

“Caitriona’s family accepted a Gold Medal for Bravery in recognition of her courage, which is the highest award possible.”

Others recognised at the ceremony yesterday include Darren McMahon, who was awarded a Certificate of Bravery for his attempt to rescue his brother from a kayak trapped in a weir gate in Ennis.

Bronze Medals and Certificates of Bravery also went to scouts Sean Baitson, Kyle Corrigan, Cory Ridge Grenelle and Philip Byrne for their attempts to rescue 14-year-old Aoife Winterlich, who died after being swept into the sea during an outing at Hook Head Lighthouse in December 2015.

Byrne in particular was noted for his efforts to keep Winterlich afloat in the rough waters before help arrived.

Published in Coastguard

#Coastguard - Irish Coast Guard director Chris Reynolds has paid tribute to the lives lost in the Rescue 116 and Kilkee tragedies ahead of his return from secondment in Somalia.

“The Coast Guard has lost five colleagues to accident and one, Daithi O’Cearbhallain, to cancer. I’ve lost six good friends,” said Reynolds, according to The Irish Sun.

“Not being at home and with my team in the Coast Guard has been very, very difficult,” he added.

“My first intention on my return in October is to visit our volunteer teams, co-ordination centres and helicopter bases to listen and understand how we will move forward.”

Reynolds was seconded to Somalia in July 2016 as part of an EU maritime security mission in the Horn of Africa.

Two months after his departure, coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas died during a search operation in Kilkee when her RIB capsized.

Six months later, Rescue 116 crashed at Black Rock in Co Mayo, claiming the lives of its four crew. Capt Dara Fitzpatrick and Capt Mark Duffy were recovered, but the bodies of winch men Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were not found.

Published in Coastguard

#MCIB - An official investigation into the death of coastguard volunteer Caitriona Lucas remains ongoing, as the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) confirms.

Lucas, a volunteer for the Irish Coast Guard’s Doolin unit, died on 12 September 2016 during a search operation for a missing person in Kilkee, when the RIB in which she and two other volunteers were travelling capsized in a heavy swell.

The MCIB’s interim report outlines the details of the day in question. Investigators’ analysis, conclusions and recommendations will be reserved for the final report.

Published in MCIB

#RNLI - A special wreath will be laid to commemorate the loss of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas during Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s annual Christmas Eve ceremony to remember all those who lost their lives at sea in the past year.

The annual commemoration marks the anniversary of the 15 volunteer lifeboat crew members from Dun Laoghaire RNLI who died during a rescue on Christmas Eve in 1895.

The short ceremony is held at the lighthouse at the end of the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire at midday on Christmas Eve. The service includes music, an ecumenical blessing, a reading of a newspaper account printed at the time of the 1895 tragedy, and concludes with a guard of honour for the wreath-bearers as they proceed to sea on the lifeboats to lay the tributes.

The ceremony will last about 20 minutes with upwards of 200 people, including families, expected to walk the pier to join the ceremony at noon.

In previous years, two wreaths have been laid at sea but this year a third will be added in memory of Caitríona Lucas of the Irish Coast Guard unit at Doolin, who died during a search operation on 12 September this year.

A guard of honour will be provided by the Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard Unit and Civil Defence volunteers, while the Dun Laoghaire RNLI lifeboats will carry the wreaths to sea a short distance from the pier.

“This is an especially poignant time of year for many people who have lost loved ones at sea but 2016 will be particularly remembered by all of us involved in rescue services around Ireland,” said Stephen Wynne, lifeboat operations manager with Dun Laoghaire RNLI.

“Caitríona symbolises the commitment we all share for helping others in need; she will not be forgotten.”

Local musician William Byrne will perform a ballad marking the 1895 tragedy, while journalist Fergal Keane will read a newspaper account from that era followed by an ecumenical blessing.

Dublin Fire Brigade piper Paul McNally will play a lament at the East Pier saluting station at the end of the ceremony that has been kindly facilitated by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

One of the attendees will be Cormac Becton, great grandson of Edward Murphy, a volunteer lifeboat man who lost his life during the rescue of the Palme in 1895.

“For many years as a young child Christmas Eve meant the nativity until I heard the story of my great Grandfather,” said Becton. “Now when I hear winter gales I think of him and the brave lifeboat crew as they rowed out of the harbour.

“The site of the ceremony on Christmas Eve is so close to where they died it isn't hard to imagine the scene and the challenge they faced.’

Due to forecasts of strong winds at the weekend, contingency plans are in place to ensure the ceremony proceeds safely. This may mean the ceremony will be moved closer to the lifeboat station. Attendees will be advised with stewards in place.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

#Kilkee - BreakingNews.ie reports that a body was recovered yesterday (Saturday 24 September) off Kilkee in the search for missing teacher David McMahon.

Hundreds had been involved in the search for the school teacher, who was last seen on 9 September, according to Independent.ie.

The discovery yesterday afternoon came 12 days after the death of Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitriona Lucas in the same area.

That tragedy occurred when the RIB she and two other coastguard volunteers were on board was flipped over in a heavy swell, three days into the search operation for McMahon off the Co Clare coast.

Published in News Update

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