Tributes have been paid to one of the country’s most experienced search and rescue helicopter winchmen who has passed away after a short illness.
Daithí Ó’Cearbhalláin, originally from Dublin, was a highly decorated Flight Sergeant with the Irish Air Corps before he retired and joined CHC Ireland who operate search and rescue helicopters for the Irish Coast Guard.
Daithí died this morning on the 27th anniversary of a rescue mission for which he later received the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).
Flight Sergeant (Retired) Daithí Ó’Cearbhalláin was honoured with the DSM for assisting in the rescue of four trawlermen from the fishing vessel ‘Locative’ off the Donegal Coast on the 9th of March 1990.
Then a corporal, he descended from the helicopter under extremely hazardous conditions and organised all four survivors for winching.
An Air Corps spokesman said: “Such acts of bravery exemplify the unit’s motto “Go Mairidís Beo (That others may live)”.
After 21 years in the Irish Air Corps, the former Army Ranger retired and joined CHC Ireland in 2002.
The Director of the Irish Coast Guard, Chris Reynolds, currently on secondment to an EU mission in Somalia, said: “It’s hard to believe that Daithí Ó Cearbhalláin passed away today. A beautiful person, a friend, advisor and one of Irelands true and honest heroes.”
A spokes for CHC Ireland said: “Friends and mentors like Daithí don’t come along very often. He was a very special man whose passing will leave a deep sadness but also a lasting legacy amongst the Irish Search And Rescue community.”
Mr Ó’Cearbhalláin is survived by his wife Dara, daughters Aoife and Niamh, sons Conláed, Tomás and Cuan.