The group attending the tree-planting ceremony.

Memorial to victims of R116 tragedy is unveiled in Castlebar

A MEMORIAL to the victims of the R116 tragedy in Blacksod Bay has been officially unveiled in Castlebar.

Four cherry blossom trees have been planted at Lough Lannagh in honour of the four crew member who lost their lives - Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (45), Captain Mark Duffy (51), winch operator Paul Ormsby (53) and winchman Ciarán Smith (38).

The memorial, located adjacent to the car park at the lake, will be further enhanced in the coming weeks with the erection of a plaque beside it.

The location was selected as it is in the flight path of rescue helicopters preparing to land at Mayo University Hospital in the town.

The idea of the memorial was mooted by Patricia (Pippi) Conway, environmental officer attached to the Castlebar Tidy Towns Committee.

She made the suggestion in a report to the elected members and officials of Castlebar Municipal District and they were fully supporters.

The planting ceremony was performed by Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, cathaoirleach, Castlebar Municipal District, along with Ms. Conway.

Councillor Kilcoyne thanked all the members of the emergency services in Mayo for their attendance and reserved special thanks to Adrian Roache, town gardener, who prepared the area.

He said the tragic events in Blacksod Bay last March touched the hearts of everybody throughout the country and it is fitting that those who lose their lives are remembered in a special way.

Michael Hurst, an officer with Ballyglass Coastguard Unit, thanked Ms. Conway and Castlebar Municipal District for such a kind gesture that was much appreciated by all involved in the emergency servces throughout Ireland.

He said the search will continue for the two crew members still missing and he paid tribute to everybody who gave of their time to the search operation since mid-March.