Funeral takes place of decorated helicopter hero

Funeral takes place of decorated helicopter hero

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Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The funeral has taken place, with military honours, of Flight Sergeant (Retired) Daithí Ó’ Cearbhalláin (DSM) who spent 21 years in the Irish Defence Forces and worked until recently with the Irish Coat Guard.

Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of one of the country’s most experienced and decorated search and rescue helicopter winchmen who passed away on Wednesday after an illness.

Members of the Irish Coast Guard representing several stations including Kilkee, Killaloe and Doolin along with Defence Forces personnel, provided a guard-of-honour while Air Corps pall-bearers were lead from St Mary’s Church in Quin by a lone piper.

Members of the Defence Forces played the last post while an Air Corps firing party provided a gun salute from the grounds of the historic Quin Abbey.

Daithí Ó’ Cearbhalláin was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal in 1992 and after leaving the Irish Air Corps in 2002, joined CHC Ireland who provide search and rescue helicopter services for the Irish Coast Guard.

Until his untimely death, Mr Ó’ Cearbhalláin was senior crew member at the Irish Coast Guard helicopter base at Shannon Airport from where Rescue 115 operates.

The Coolock man, who has been resident in Clare for many years, worked as a winchman mainly on search and rescue operations with the Air Corps where he also studied paramedic skills. He also spent some time in the Army Ranger Wing.

By the time he had finished in the Air Corps Daithí had reached the position of chief crewman and had been honoured with several awards including the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).

Daithí also died, after an illness, on the 27th anniversary of the rescue mission for which he received the DSM.

The late Daithí Ó’Cearbhalláin picture at the Irish Coast Guard hangar in Shannon – Photo: Press 22

He received the Sir Edward Maisie Lewis award, the Department of Marine Meritorious Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) with Distinction after in assisting in the rescue of four trawlermen from the fishing vessel ‘Locative’ off the Donegal Coast on the 9th of March 1990.

He was also honoured by the British Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Benevolent Society Award in 1992 for his part in rescuing 57 crew members from the French-registered fish factory ship Capitaine Pleven II which had run aground in Galway Bay the previous year. The RAF were also involved in the mission because of the number of persons that required evacuating.

Mr Ó’Cearbhalláin’s funeral mass was held at St Mary’s Church in Quin Co Clare this morning while a cremation service will take place on Monday in Dublin.

He is survived by his wife Dara, daughters Aoife and Niamh, sons Conláed, Tomás and Cuan.

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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