Tributes have been paid to one of the longest serving Officers in Charge with the Irish Coast Guard who has retired after 30 years of service.
Mattie Shannon retired on the same day that 80 years of volunteer search and rescue operations were celebrated in Doolin.
The Coast Life Saving Service was established on June 9th 1937 at station 42a which was located at Ballaghaline, Doolin. 11 volunteers were originally enrolled into the service.
In 1988, that local volunteer search unit became known as the Coast and Cliff Rescue Service with Mattie Shannon being appointed its first Officer in Charge (OiC).
In 1991 the service became part of the Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) and later, in 2000, was renamed the Irish Coast Guard. Mattie Shannon remained in charge of the unit until he confirmed his retirement at the weekend after completing three decades of dedicated service.
On Saturday, a plaque was unveiled at Doolin Coast Guard station with the names of volunteers with at least three years service who have served since 1937. The event was attended by family members of those who have served in Doolin since volunteer operations commenced.
The crew of Rescue 115, members of other Coast Guard units including Kilkee and Killaloe, the RNLI, Red Cross, Clare County Fire and Rescue Service, An Garda Síochána representatives of other services attended the event.
A moments silence was held for the late Doolin Coast Guard member Caitríona Lucas who died in the line of duty in Septembers 2016. The crew of Rescue 116 which crashed off Mayo last year were also remembered.
Irish Coast Guard Divisional Controller John Draper said: “After 30 years’ service to the Coast Guard Mattie Shannon steps down as Officer in Charge of Doolin Coast Guard Unit. He has been a stalwart in the way he has served and managed the unit for the Coast Guard. He is not only a true inspiration to those involved in Search and Rescue but also to the wider community.”
“The friendship and support provided by Mattie and the Doolin Coast Guard unit to the families who have lost their loved ones as a result of tragedy at sea over the years will not be forgotten by them,” Mr Draper added.
Doolin Coast Guard member Ray Murphy, who has 29 years service in Doolin, said: “Mattie has been backbone of the organisation, the captain of our ship from day one. He’s been an inspiration to the team and a gentleman to work with. He will be greatly missed by the team and we wish him the very best in the future.”
Kilrush RNLI station manager Pauline Dunleavy said: “With Mattie, what you saw is what you got. His kindness, generosity and knowledge are outstanding. Good people are hard to find and with Mattie his type of character will never be replaced. I and my crew here at Kilrush wish him the very best in his retirement.”