herald

Thursday 23 November 2017

'It's been one big nightmare', says mother of tragic fisherman Jamie

Jamie with his mum
Jamie with his mum

The family of tragic fisherman Jamie McAllister has described the last few days as a "bad dream" after his body was recovered from the sea off Skerries on Saturday.

Speaking for the first time since the tragedy, Jamie's mum Elaine said it had been like "one big, long nightmare" since Friday's tragic incident.

Jamie (28) had been out working with his uncle, helping out on a boat in Skerries for a couple of days, but had been in the process of working towards an apprenticeship as an electrician.

The boat capsized on Friday afternoon metres from the coast but, while his uncle, Keith McAllister, was rescued, Jamie was not found until the following day, around 500 metres from the coast.

More than 100 members of his friends and family turned up on Skerries beach on Sunday night to pay an emotional tribute to Jamie, who was described by friends and family as the "life and soul of the party".

Fireworks were set off, fires were lit and Jamie's name was spelled out across the sand in candles in a celebration of his life.

Elaine told the Herald that the touching tribute had provided her with some comfort.

"It's just been like one big, long nightmare of a day," she said. "You don't expect to have to bury your kids.

"I'm just going to miss him. What else can I say?

"We paid a big tribute to him at the beach. He put a smile on everyone's face.

"We didn't realise how popular he was until Sunday night."

Locals' tribute to Jamie on the beach at Skerries
Locals' tribute to Jamie on the beach at Skerries

His cousin, Danielle, who grew up with Jamie, said the support from his friends had been a major help as the family tried to come to terms with the unthinkable.

"It's been a bad dream and you think you're just going to wake up from it," Danielle said.

"His brother, Ryan, they were best friends. They did everything together.

"When you saw one you would see the other. They were like two peas in a pod.

"He is absolutely devastated.

"On Sunday there was his name in candles and a fire in a barrel, which had his name engraved into the barrel.

Jamie and family
Jamie and family

"We had fireworks when it was dark.

"When the fireworks went off there was a rainbow. There was absolutely no rain, and the rainbow went over the whole sky. It was weird. It was to celebrate his life."

Fund

A poem was written in memory of Jamie by his pal, James Reid, and placed on a plaque, which will be duplicated and sold with all proceeds going to a fund set up for the tragic victim.

The piece of writing "sums him up", according to his mum, who said "how they found words like that, I don't know".

An extract of the poem read: "The heart of our little town has been shattered. It goes to show how much you really mattered.

"But now you're gone up to a better place, to take over heaven with your cheeky face."

Jamie's body was transported home yesterday afternoon and his funeral is set to take place at St Patrick's Church, Skerries, tomorrow at noon.

Jamie leaves behind his broken-hearted parents Elaine and Troy, his sister Ela and brother Ryan.

His uncle and skipper of the boat involved in the tragedy, Keith, is recovering in hospital.

What makes the story even more poignant is the fact that Jamie was "filling in" for someone else when he perished as he helped his uncle to fish for razor clams.

A member of the public raised the alarm when they saw the boat capsize and the Skerries RNLI lifeboat was at the scene within minutes.

The multi-agency search was co-ordinated by the LE Niamh, along with the Irish Coast Guard.

Lifeboats from Skerries, Howth and Clogherhead were also involved in the operation, along with local fishermen who were mobilised following the incident.

Shocked

A business owner and friend of Jamie's family has vowed to raise funds for the 28-year-old's family following his tragic death at sea.

Xhemajil Abdullahu, fondly nicknamed 'Jimmy', has known the McAllister family for seven years and works alongside Jamie's mum in his pizzeria in Skerries.

Jimmy posted on Facebook: "I am really shocked after the incident off the coast yesterday and I am deeply touched by the loss of Jamie McAllister.

"My deepest condolences to Jamie's family and especially to his mom, who is a member of our staff.

"In honour of Jamie as a fisherman, I've decided that on Wednesday, which is the half-price fish day, I am going to donate all the money raised to Jamie's family.

"Let's contribute together to make the things a tiny bit easier and let his family know that we are here."

"He was just a gentleman, and no one would have anything bad to say about him.

"It's hard to find anyone like him."

An investigation into Jamie's death is due to begin early this week.

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