'The bravest lifeboat crew': Tributes paid to crew on 40th anniversary of Fastnet disaster

'The bravest lifeboat crew': Tributes paid to crew on 40th anniversary of Fastnet disaster

Courtmacsherry Harbour Lifeboat has paid tribute to its crew for their life-saving efforts in the Fastnet disaster 40 years ago.

On Sunday, a commemoration on Cape Clear Island will mark four decades since the disaster.

The race in 1979 was the 29th Royal Ocean Racing Club's Fastnet Race, staged every two years since 1925 on a 605-mile course from Cowes direct to the Fastnet Rock and then to Plymouth via south of the Isles of Scilly.

Unexpected storm force-10 winds hit the race on its third day, wreaking havoc on more than 300 yachts, resulting in 19 fatalities: 15 yachtsmen and four spectators.

The rescue operation involved some 4,000 people, including a host of Irish RNLI lifeboat crews.

Among those involved were the Courtmacsherry Harbour Lifeboat crew.

The current crewmembers have paid tribute to the heroics of their predecessors: "This week 40 years ago of August 14th 1979, will ever be remembered in Courtmacsherry as the night the bravest of Lifeboat Crew from our station put to sea in Force 10 gales and 50 ft waves to go to the aid of competitors in the famous Fastnet Yacht Race, as a freak storm hit the race and 15 sailors were drowned."

The Courtmacsherry relief RNLI lifeboat, the Sir Samual Kelly, spent 21 hours at sea.

The crew of seven, led by Coxswain Sammy Mearns, rescued 10 people on board the racing yacht Casse Tete V and provided assistance to two other yachts, Wild Goose and Pepsi.

"On board the Lifeboat with Coxswain Mearns on that faithful callout, in the most atrocious weather ever encountered, were Acting Second Coxswain Diarmuid O'Mahony, Acting Mechanic Mark Gannon, and crewmembers Harold Oulton, Tony Dorman, Tom Mulcahy and brothers PJ and Cally McCarthy," the crew said.

It is of note that 40 years later, Mark Gannon is presently Second Coxswain of our current Trent Class Lifeboat and Diarmuid O'Mahony went on to become Coxswain of our Station and is a current officer at the Station and the Deputy Launching Authority.

"Both Diarmuid and Mark have given lifetimes of voluntary service to the Courtmacsherry Lifeboat."

On Sunday a full series of commemoration events will be held on Cape Clear Island to mark the 40th anniversary of the disaster.

A mass to mark the anniversary will be held at St Ciaran's Graveyard at 3pm and the islanders are inviting all seafarers and those with connections to the tragedy to join them for the service.

Following the Mass, and on a different note, there will be an unveiling of a painting of Gerald Butler — one of the last lighthouse-keepers — in Cape Clear Heritage Centre at 4.30pm.


More in this Section

New taxes being considered as Government bid to reduce plastic useNew taxes being considered as Government bid to reduce plastic use

Sinn Féin: Taoiseach must take the lead on border pollSinn Féin: Taoiseach must take the lead on border poll

Man due in court in connection with Dublin drug and gun seizureMan due in court in connection with Dublin drug and gun seizure

Not having a second language hurts job opportunities, experts warnNot having a second language hurts job opportunities, experts warn


Lifestyle

Make-up artist Terry Barber reveals the secret to pulling off the bold lip look.This is how to make black lipstick work in real life, according to a catwalk make-up pro

Off to the Japan? After a trip to Tokyo, Ella Walker outlines the best things to eat between matches.These are the dishes to try if you’re going to Tokyo for the Rugby World Cup

It still surprises me as I am achingly private and do not enjoy being at the centre of attention.This Much I Know: Actor Aislin McGuckin

Bride Geraldine O’Donovan felt as wonderful as she looked on her big day — knowing she was supporting a cause close to her heart as she donned her wedding gown.Wedding on the Week: Supporting a cause close to their hearts

More From The Irish Examiner