Clogherhead, Co Louth: Bodies Of Two Lost Skerries Fishermen Recovered: UPDATED

9 Apr

The Clogher Head Life Boat has recovered two bodies from the fishing gear of a trawler.

The Clogher Head Life Boat has recovered two bodies from the fishing gear of a trawler.

The discovery was made in the early hours of this morning five miles east of Clogherhead, Co Louth, by the crew of the ‘Guiding Light‘ fishing boat.

The bodies have been brought ashore and have been identified as those of two fishermen from Skerries who went missing while out fishing on 1 April.

Ronan Browne, 26, and David Gilsenan, 41, failed to return from a lobster fishing trip.

THE PEOPLE of Skerries went for a walk on Wednesday evening. Thousands of them, a ribbon stretching more than a kilometre up the strand, along the promenade, the length of the north Co Dublin town.

It was called a “walk of solidarity”: solidarity with the families of Ronan Browne and David Gilsenan, fishermen who were lost at sea off Skerries a week ago; with the local volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; with the teams of neighbours, friends and strangers who spent every daylight hour of last weekend searching the beaches of north Dublin, Meath and Louth; with the sailors and trawlermen who joined the search at their own expense; with the Garda divers, the Air Corps pilots and the naval crew. It was a walk of solidarity with those still searching for the men.

The initial idea was to raise funds for fuel, to help continue to do everything possible to bring the men home. But it became something greater, an expression of community that was extraordinary and moving, even to those such as myself who have spent their lives in this close-knit town.

People, including many entire families, converged at the Martello tower on Red Island, close to the harbour, where the search operation is still headquartered. They came from surrounding towns and villages, such as Rush, where David Gilsenan lived. There was a team of boys from Loughshinny United football team in their kit. Local bikers joined the police as stewards.

No one attempted to count the numbers there, but even a conservative estimate of 6,000 people would be impressive in a town with a population of only 9,500.

As we walked the strand a coastguard vehicle splashed past, continuing the low-tide search. We walked in view of the LE Emer, currently moored in the bay. We passed a car, waiting for the roads to reopen, in which two people sat in the now familiar orange suits of the search teams.

That search will continue. In two days, €80,000 was raised through the walk, a coffee morning, charity accounts and a donation by a local fuel company. During the walk one collector was urged to shake his bucket. “I can’t,” he exclaimed. “It’s too full of money.”

If the event has any recent precedent it occurred, perhaps, after the 2008 death in Tandragee of the motorcycle road-racer Martin Finnegan, who was returned home to Lusk, 8km from Skerries, by a convoy of bikers. He was greeted by what seemed like the entire village, out on the streets to receive him.

These are expressions of community, though, that are surely embedded in almost every part of the country. The word community may have been cheapened by overuse in the past decade. Signifying almost any group of people, and stretched to cover the new connections online, it seemed diluted. But it can still be potent.

It always has been. During the boom we seemed almost eager to believe that there had been a destruction of community in Ireland, that it had been replaced by atomised families, selfish individuals. The government was moved to create a taskforce on active citizenship to combat the problem, only for it to find that there was little evidence of a decline in voluntary activity.

Since the recession began there has been an increase in volunteering as people have found themselves with extra time, but the Central Statistics Office found that even during the Tiger years community was strong. The 2006 census revealed that most people had regular contact with their neighbours, a quarter had done unpaid charitable work, almost two-thirds had taken part in voluntary activities and a similar number felt a strong attachment to their neighbourhood.

It often takes tragedy to bring out the full force of community spirit, although the reaction in Cork and beyond to the Benhaffaf family and the separation surgery undergone by their conjoined twins proved that it can also spring from hope and joy. It is at rare times that it becomes so concentrated and we become so aware of it.

Yet although it was an exceptional week for Skerries, Skerries is not an exceptional town. Almost every town, every village, has such a story, of local heroes and community efforts, perhaps unregarded beyond the locality. In a week of tragedy Skerries did what many towns would do: it reached for its greatest strength and found it to be its people.

And when the world crashed down for two families a town came together for them.

2 Responses to “Clogherhead, Co Louth: Bodies Of Two Lost Skerries Fishermen Recovered: UPDATED”

  1. Mark Mcallister 0AprilJ2011 at 6:18 pm #

    please remove the link on ronans name this link is wrong ronan

    Thank you

    • Citizen's Free Press: Ireland 0AprilJ2011 at 3:23 pm #

      Have Done. Thanks for the info.

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