Fitting tribute to seafarers who lost lives

The crumbling wreck of the Tit Bonhomme was barely visible to relatives who revisited the tragic site at Adam Island yesterday.

“There is not much left of her now,” said Kathleen Hayes, widow of its skipper, the late Michael Hayes.

Relatives returned to coastal village of Union Hall for a ceremony dedicated to seafarers lost in region over the past 150 years.

“It’s a lovely tribute to all families affected. It’s the only thing you can take from this tragedy, the positivity of the people here and the things that they do to make you realise that people really are good,” she said.

Prayers were offered for the Tit Bonhomme’s five crewman, the most recent victims of the sea that surround Glandore Harbour.

The sole survivor of the tragedy, Abdo Mohamad, was flanked by friends and relatives from the Egyptian community, represented by Dr Gehad Elbastawisy.

Margaret Kershaw, mother of the youngest victim, first-time fisherman Kevin Kershaw, 22, and Chief Superintendent Tom Hayes, brother of skipper Michael, were among a 300-strong crowd assembled at the site of the monument on the edge of the bay.

The Seafarers’ Monument will serve as a permanent reminder of the difficulties faced by coastal communities.

“The sea is a provider of much, a friend, but has many humours and can also be a dangerous foe,” marine correspondent Tom McSweeney said.

Mr McSweeney paid tribute to local people whose efforts during last January’s search helped inland communities understand the challenges of coastal living.

“Tragedy has come too often to fishing communities but this community of Union Hall rose beyond that to send out a message of commitment, concern and dedication,” he said.

Union Hall development committee spokesman Paddy O’Donovan praised the media’s role in highlighting events at Union Hall, with a special mention for Irish Examiner photographer Dan Linehan.

A wreath was laid at the base of an anchor that forms the focal point of the monument, and members of the Coastguard traced the names of those lost in major tragedies dating back to 1874.

Local councillor Adrian Healy, representing Mayor of Cork Barbara Murray, praised those involved in the search effort.

“Your determination, courage and true sense of community spirit ensured those lost at sea were returned to their loved ones,” he said.

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