Anniversary of Ballyfermot Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter crew member's death

By Maurice Garvey

A SERIES of events took place in Mayo today to mark the first anniversary of the Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter 116 crash that resulted in the deaths of four crew members – including Ballyfermot man Paul Ormsby.

The bodies of Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy were recovered in the days following the accident last March, but their two colleagues, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby, remain lost at sea.

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A memorial service was held in Ballyfermot last June, at St Matthew’s Church, for Paul, a winch-operator with the Coast Guard.

Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects, including Transport Minister Shane Ross, the Defence Forces, President Michael D Higgins represented by his aide-de-camp, Capt Eoin Rochford, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny by his aide-de-camp, Commdt Dave Duff.

Relatives of the crew members who died travelled to Mayo for today's anniversary.

Around 100 people attended a candlelit vigil early this morning, which was timed to coincide with the time the helicopter lost contact with shore.

The Irish Coast Guard said: “Two brave souls were brought home, two remain lost to sea, but all four will be forever remembered for the sacrifice they made.

“Our thoughts today are with the families, friends and colleagues of Dara, Mark, Paul and Ciarán.”

Relatives attended a memorial mass in Aughleam, before travelling the short distance to Blacksod for a commemorative event.

The events were attended by multiple agencies involved in the search operation, as well as by members of the local community.

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