Caitriona Lucas: Mourners pay respects to Irish coast guard who lost life during rescue operation
Thousands of mourners have turned out to pay their respects to the family of heroic Irish coast guard, Caitriona Lucas.
Ms Lucas is the first member of the Irish Coastguard volunteer to lose her life in the course of her duties.
The 41-year-old experienced coxswain lost her life on Monday, after the rescue boat overturned off the coast of Kilkee, Co Clare.
All evening long, mourners have been filing into the parish Church in Liscannor, the small village near the Cliffs of Moher, where she had lived with her family.
Amongst them are 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 and Emma.
One of the first groups to pay their respects was a group 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 guards, where Caitriona Lucas had been based, as well as volunteers from Kilrush and many others.
Mattie Shannon, Officer in Charge (OIC) with Doolin Coast Guard said he was overwhelmed by the great outpouring of sympathy from around the country.
All coast guard services work in tandem and they have come together at this time to mourn a member of the family, he said.
Caitriona’s death had been a big loss, he said.
“She was such a fantastic person,” he said, adding that they could take solace from the fact that she had loved doing what she did.
Amongst the crowds, many had expressed gratitude for the work of the coast guards, Mr Shannon said, revealing that he had just met a woman whose husband was a fisherman the Doolin unit had rescued “six or seven years ago.”
Mr Shannon said the Doolin unit was one of the busiest in the country because “with the beauty comes the danger.”
The increasing popularity of the west coast means that the risk increases, he warned. The Doolin unit had received 57 calls so far this year – their busiest period to date.
Emotional, he said that the coast guard volunteers are proposing to meet back in a month’s time to reflect on Ms Lucas’ life and to just take time to be together.
The funeral will take place in the morning at Liscannor church in Clare.