A NEW state-of-the-art search and rescue rib, acquired by the Killarney Water Rescue Unit and officially launched this week, has been dedicated to the memory of a local teenager who lost his life in a tragic drowning incident on the lakes of Killarney.
Cian O’Donoghue, from Gortahoosh, Glenflesk, was just 19 years-of-age when the tragedy occurred near Ross Castle in July 2013.
The rescue team was tasked on the day but although it was too late to save Cian’s life, his body was recovered in a fast and very efficient manner.
In a poignant gesture, the new rib has been named ‘Cian’ by the unit and the launch ceremony on the lake at Muckross was attended by close on 300 people, including Cian’s parents, Billy and Joanie, his family and many friends.
“Cian’s family has been a wonderful support to us since the tragedy occurred, holding sponsored walks and other fundraising events and it has been a great help,” said unit founder Jimmy Sweetman whose own brother, Oliver, also died in a drowning incident on the lakes.
“It’s our tribute to Cian and we really appreciate what the O’Donoghue family has done for us,” he added.
“We will continue on our next journey with ‘Cian’ and continue to keep his memory alive”.
The new rig, which cost €60,000 and was built in the UK, is equipped with all essential equipment, including GPS navigation, built-in VHF radio and a deck finder. It boasts a centre console, it can facilitate 12 personnel, store diving gear and it is powered by a 175hp four-stroke Yamaha engine.
The unit – which has been up and running for over 25 years – also has three older ribs that the volunteers hope to upgrade to ensure they remain fit for purpose.
The Killarney Water Rescue Unit is an entirely voluntary service – a registered charity – and the only source of income it can rely on is an annual street collection, fundraisers like bag packing in supermarkets, flag days and donations.
The official launch of the new rib was attended by Mayor of Kerry, Cllr Niall Kelleher, who helped the unit in its application for LEADER funding, John Draper of Valentia Coast Guard and members of the Kerry Mountain Rescue Team.
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