Friendship with Dara prompts Limerick GAA clubs to aid recovery mission

Lough Gur resident drives to Mayo with food items collected at local clubhouses

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

 Friendship with Dara prompts Limerick GAA clubs to aid recovery mission

The late Captain Dara Fitzpatrick who lost her life in the Rescue 116 tragedy

TWO vans packed with water, cordial, porridge, soups and crisps made their way to County Mayo this Wednesday to fuel the searchers involved in the Rescue 116 tragedy.

As a result of a 19 year friendship between local woman Elaine Wiseman and the late Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who sadly lost her life in the tragedy, Limerick GAA joined forces with Club Limerick in a bid to collect food donations and other supplies to assist those involved in the recovery mission.

Local GAA clubs including Kilmallock GAA, Newcastle West GAA club and Na Piarsaigh GAA club opened their clubhouses on Tuesday evening where they accepted all contributions.

Elaine, who lives in Lough Gur, became friends with Dara when they started sharing a house together in Dooradoyle some 19 years ago. Elaine’s daughter Moya, 5, was Dara’s Godchild.

“My wife works with Aer Lingus and Dara was training in Shannon,” Elaine’s husband and well-known photographer Keith Wiseman explained.

“They travelled all over the world together - Vietnam and Cambodia and Dara would have gone on many trips to America with her as well,” he added.

This Wednesday morning, Elaine and her friend Debbie Gleeson made their way to the coordination centre in Blacksod, County Mayo. Cunningham Foods in Newcastle West also kindly offered to transport food and supplies.

“Elaine drove one van which was sponsored by Hogan Motors. The van was full. Cunningham Foods drove up behind them in another van,” Keith explained.

“It was mostly foods for the searchers to put  in their backpacks when going out to search.”

Almost three weeks after the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed off the north Mayo island of Blackrock, the air, sea and search is to continue for Irish Coast Guard winch crew Paul Ormsby, 53 and Ciaran Smith, 38.

Rescue agencies have expressed “deep disappointment” at the failure to find any trace of the two Irish Coast Guard airmen after the wreckage of the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter was lifted from the seabed on Sunday.

A senior pilot Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, was recovered from the sea and died within hours of the crash on March 14 some 13 km west of north Mayo.

Speaking on Limerick’s Live 95FM, Elaine recalled how the pair remained firm friends and travelled Asia together, where Dara's red hair always caused a stir.

“She was always so willing to share [her time],” she said of her friend.

Dara  would also speak to young women about their careers telling them "there is no glass ceiling if you don’t let it stop you – and it most certainly didn’t stop her.”

Elaine praised the rescue operations in Blacksod and acknowledged the ongoing challenge faced by their families as the search for the final two crewmen continues.