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North-west remembers the bravery of Rescue 116 crew

 “EVERY man’s life ends the same way; it is only the details of how he lived and he died that distinguishes one man from another” – the words of Ernest Hemmingway.


These are just some of the thoughts that came to mind last week when the north-west, in tandem with the entire country, paused to reflect and remember, with family and friends, the selfless bravery of the crew of Rescue 116, who died when their helicopter crashed off Blacksod off the Mayo coast just over a year ago.
An emotional 4 minute silence was held in Blacksod in memory of the crew on Tuesday night during a candlelit vigil at 12.46am, the time the Irish Coast Guard helicopter came down on that fateful night.
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby all lost their lives when Rescue 116 struck Black Rock Island on its way to a refuelling stop at Blacksod. The bodies of Smith and Ormsby were never recovered.
Among those remembering the crew was the Coast Guard cycle team that travelled from the Rescue 116 base in Dublin Airport to Blacksod. The Commissioners of Irish Lights vessel, the Granuaile and the LE Niamh of the Naval Service were both anchored off Blacksod from 9.30 am on Wednesday morning.
A memorial Mass at St. Brendan’s Church in Aghleam took place at 10 am, concluding with a wreath laying ceremony off Blackrock. The family of the crew passed the wreaths to members of the coast guard and gardaí before the wreaths were transferred to the Granuaile and the LE Niamh. The Irish Coast Guard remembered its lost crew: “Two brave souls were brought home, two remain lost to the 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,”
It was a timely reminder for all to reflect on the sacrifices made by people and their families in the rescue services. On Tuesday afternoon Ciarán Smith’s wife Martina arrived in Blacksod to complete the mammoth cycle from Dublin in memory of her husband. Ms Smith said her husband was her inspiration for completing the cycle and bore a poem in his memory on the back of her jersey. It read: "In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced or cried aloud, Under the bludgeoning of chance, My head is bloody