Tit Bonhomme skipper’s family moving forward

The widow of the drowned skipper of the Tit Bonhomme trawler has bought a new vessel and named it after their youngest daughter.

Tit Bonhomme skipper’s family moving forward

“I think Michael would be delighted with the name I’ve chosen. He would expect nothing less,” Caitlín Uí hAodha said last night.

Caitlín, who lost her husband, Michael, in the 2012 trawler tragedy off the Cork coast, will christen the new vessel Dearbhla at a ceremony with close family in Howth today.

She said it would be a special moment tinged with sadness for her children, Ferdia, Lia, Dearbhaile, Micheál, and the recently engaged Ealga, who is living in Denver and can’t make it home for the ceremony.

“It will be nice but emotional for the kids to mark this moment, and realise that it’s ok to go forward,” she said.

“You walk side-by-side with what happened — tragedies like that stay with you forever. It doesn’t get easier but you learn to cope.

“I didn’t want to sell the fishing licence out of the family so I decided to buy this new boat.

“You can’t wear a hood over your head. You have to take it off and walk on, otherwise there wouldn’t be any point. So it’s a new business — moving forward.”

Caitlín, who co-owned the Tit Bonhomme with her late husband, bought the new 23m vessel from a fisherman in Fair Head. Skippered by Shane Curran, from Killybegs, the vessel has been rigged for freezing prawns at sea, and will be based in Dunmore East.

Mr Hayes, 52, from Co Waterford, and four of his five-man crew lost their lives when the 21-metre Tit Bonhomme went down in heavy sea after striking rocks at Adam Island at the mouth of Glandore Bay early on January 15, 2012.

There was just one survivor — Egyptian fisherman Abdelbaky Mohamed — who managed to swim to nearby rocks before he was airlifted to safety.

The accident triggered one of the largest and longest sea search and recovery operations Ireland has seen.The bodies of Mr Hayes, Kevin Kershaw, 21, from Clonakilty in Co Cork, and Egyptian crewmen Wael Mohamad, 35, Attaia Shaban, 26, and Said Mohamed, 22, were finally recovered after a massive 26-day search. The people of Union Hall supported the recovery effort throughout, prompting offers of help from around the country.President Michael D Higgins visited Union Hall a few months later to personally meet those touched by the tragedy, and to thank those involved in the 26-day recovery operation.

He hailed their efforts as “heroic” saying: “Rather than allowing yourselves to be defeated by loss and tragedy, you showed strength of spirit and the power of the collective.” Later that year, the people of Union Hall won a special Cork People of the Year award, and a Person of the Year award, dedicating it to families who are still waiting for loved ones to come home.

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