'Goodbye mum, you're my hero' - tears as son says farewell to tragic coast guard volunteer Caitriona
The devastated husband of brave volunteer coast guard Caitriona Lucas told mourners at her funeral not to put things off because "life is short and time is very precious".
Thousands of mourners turned out for the Mass at St Brigid's Church, Liscannor, Co Clare to pay their respects to the fallen hero.
Her son, Ben (20) gave an emotional farewell to his mother, saying: "Goodbye to our wonderful mother. Love always. You are my hero."
Describing Caitriona (41) as "an exceptional person in every way", he said she had given "one hundred per-cent" and had loved being a coast guard.
The first volunteer coast guard to die in the course of duty, Caitriona lost her life on Monday when her rescue boat capsized. She was assisting as coxswain in the search for missing teacher David McMahon.
Caitriona's husband, Bernard gave a word of thanks for all the support the family have received, saying: "We're all family amongst the services."
In a heartfelt message, he urged mourners not to put things off in life because "life is short and time is very precious."
Chief mourners at the Mass yesterday were Caitriona's husband, Bernard and children Ben (20) and Emma (18).
The President Michael D Higgins was represented by his ADC, LT Cdr Patricia Burke Butler and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny by his ADC, Lt Col Kieran Carey.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross was also in attendance, together with hundreds of members from the Irish Coast Guard, the Garda Sub Aqua Unit, the Civil Defence and volunteer coastguards from units throughout the country.
Gifts brought to the altar by her family representing her life included her climbing helmet - with Chief Celebrant Fr Denis Crosby noting that as a child, Caitriona had been terrified of heights but had conquered that fear through her indomitable spirit.
A sample of her artwork, together with a model lifeboat made by Caitriona was also brought up.
A map of Oregon in the US was also brought up - it was among the numerous destinations the couple had travelled to across the globe.
Fr Crosby said Caitriona had set an example to all through her selfless dedication to her community and in the way she had lived her life to the full.
"She confronted her fears and triumphed. I confess in my life I have succumbed and given in to fear," Fr Crosby admitted.
Prayers were said for the children whose life Caitriona had touched and for the safety of the rescue services
Then Bernard read aloud a moving poem he had been given.
"Caitriona, the call was made and you set out, in wind and wave and rain .
"Your quest, to search and search, to ease a family's pain.
"You never hesitated once. That bleeper sounded loud."
His voice shook with emotion as he ended: "Your sacrifice will never be lost on us, your loyal crew.
"Anchors away, you beauty queen. You are in our hearts and souls.
"From your friends and lonesome crew, for now it's slan go foill."
Draped in the tricolour, the coffin was taken for burial amid a guard of honour from the maritime services, standing tall to remember their fallen colleague.