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Saturday 1 October 2016

Mourners pay their respects to tragic coast guard hero ‘as a light goes out with Caitriona’s death’

Mourners at the funeral mass of Caitríona Lucas in Liscannor, County Clare.
Mourners at the funeral mass of Caitríona Lucas in Liscannor, County Clare.

Well over a thousand mourners turned out to pay tribute at the removal of Caitriona Lucas, the first coast guard volunteer to die in the line of duty.

There were devastating scenes as the heartbroken community of Liscannor, Co Clare, gathered to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Caitriona, who had been the first to volunteer in the search for missing school teacher

David McMahon.

Parish Priest Fr Denis Crosby said the silent crowds had said it all with their respect for Caitriona.

“They were here from Valentia and Donegal, from Dublin and beyond. Her light has shone right through the land,” he said.

The remains of the coast guard boat which capsized during the rescue.
The remains of the coast guard boat which capsized during the rescue.

It would have been beyond her wildest imagination because she was “not that kind of person. It wasn’t her way”.

“A light has gone out with Caitriona’s death,” he said.

Those who knew Caitriona recalled her as a person with a great “aura of calmness around her”. “She was so helpful,” said retired county librarian Noel Crowley, who had worked with Ms Lucas for about eight years.

“She never thought of what she had done, but what she could do next,” he said. “She was a great team member.”

He revealed that only within the last month, Caitriona had helped to organise a guard of honour at the funeral of a colleague at the library.

The 41-year-old lost her life on Monday after the rescue boat she was in overturned off the coast of Kilkee, Co Clare.

Unit

Amongst those present at the removal last night were volunteers from coast guard units all around the country, sympathising with Caitriona’s husband, Bernard – also a coast guard volunteer at Doolin – as well as the couple’s two children, Ben (20)  and Emma (18).

One of the first groups to pay their respects was from the unit at Achill, Co Mayo.

There were also volunteers from the unit at Kilkee, Co Clare – which often works with the Doolin coast guard, where Caitriona had been based, as well as volunteers from Kilrush and many others.

Members from the Garda sub-aqua unit, the Civil Defence and from Cork City Fire Brigade also paid their respects.

Mattie Shannon, Officer in Charge (OIC) with Doolin Coast Guard, said he was

overwhelmed by the great outpouring of sympathy from around the country.

“She was such a fantastic person,” he said.

All coast guard services work in tandem and they have come together at this time to mourn a member of the family, he said.

Meanwhile, a book of condolences drew dozens of locals to the library in Ennistymon, Co Clare where Caitriona worked.

Her regular readers left messages of support for her husband and two children.

“She was very good with her hands and had great ideas and always did things on her own initiative,” her colleague Tim Murphy said. 

“She organised a Lego club, where the kids build things together, which is all about teamwork. It was actually so popular we had to spread it out over a longer time because there was so many people who wanted to do it.

“The importance of team building was obviously something that she picked up from working with her colleagues in the coast guard. She was great for helping readers if they were trying to select and they loved that,” Mr Murphy said.

This week Caitriona had organised an event which was due to take place on Wednesday evening for children to mark the centenary of author Roald Dahl’s birth.

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