For the family of Barry Ryan and Barry Davis Ryan yesterday, it must have felt like scaling Everest.
Ann Davis, a local woman from Rath just outside the fishing village, was accompanied by her daughter Charlotte as they visited the scene of Tuesday’s triple tragedy.
Ann’s partner Barry Ryan and her son Barry Davis Ryan fell victim to the sea, alongside young Barry’s girlfriend, University College Cork social science student Niamh O’Connor.
Ann and her daughter were with other family members and gardaí as they reviewed the scene, and saw first hand the sterling efforts to bring home 20-year-old Barry, still missing.
Just a few days ago, Charlotte had courageously ran up the steep hill towards the white-painted beacon, desperately seeking help as tragedy unfolded in the waters below at what must have been a baffling speed.
Yesterday, those waters were again subjected to strenuous searches, with different weather conditions to the previous day but the vital discovery still just out of reach.
The RNLI lifeboat from Baltimore, the Naval diving team, the West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue and a Garda underwater dive team along with onshore Coast Guard spotters were supplemented yesterday by the Civil Defence Cork West — four in a boat and five people ashore.
The sad and inescapable aspect of all this, is that it is now a search and recovery mission, rather than search and rescue.
As the sunshine levels increased in the village of Baltimore, Tuesday evening’s events seemed to move out of focus, at least for many of those milling around the pier yesterday.
A range of European accents could be heard, seats outside the cafes and bars were at a premium, and children attending the Baltimore Sailing School were in perpetual motion.
And then every now and again the Irish Coast Guard helicopter would hover into view, a reminder that at the other side of the Beacon, the search went on.
The trauma of the Davis Ryan family can only be guessed, as Ann and children Charlotte and Arthur waited for news.
With tourists strolling the pathways in Baltimore, locals who knew those lost to the sea on Tuesday were either reluctant or too upset to speak.
However, one man with firm memories is Ger Reid, employee with Photo Finish and an old friend of Barry Ryan.
A keen racing fan, Barry helped with the filming of the finishing post at meetings up and down the country, and assisted stewards in the case of a photo finish.
“He was well-liked, he was a very conscientious chap,” Ger said.
He recalled hearing a radio report on Tuesday and Baltimore being mentioned. His first thought was ‘that’s where Barry lives’. “He was a popular character,” Ger said of Barry, remembering how he used to stand out due to his propensity for wearing cricket t-shirts.
For at least five years, and until relatively recently, Barry had been the man tending to the cameras on behalf of the Turf Club, getting along famously with the folk setting up the betting stalls and soaking up the racing atmosphere. “He was a top-class gentleman,” Ger said.
Meanwhile, search crews in Baltimore are hoping a different type of finishing post is in sight, with a successful conclusion in their efforts to locate Barry Davis Ryan. The family will hope for the same.
Yesterday’s sunshine is expected to give way to more inclement weather today, the wind likely to pick up as strong as Force 7 or 8 from a southerly direction. It would mean no dives today, as checking the underwater gullies would be too dangerous.
Yesterday, divers combed the area, section by section, navigating depths of up to 16m in places, while on shore, Coast Guard spotters kept their eyes trained on the glittering water. All the while the seagulls took off and landed on the cliff face overlooking the spot, known as the eastern hole.
Everyone was hoping that yesterday would be the day when they brought Barry home, but the wait goes on.
Maybe today will be the day.