I’ve been acutely aware since I started this blog that the Tramore Beach I love with such a passion is a place that spells absolute sadness for others. The families of the four crew members who were killed in the horrific Irish Air Corps helicopter crash on July 2, 1999 tend to be foremost in my mind in this context and I suspect this is because hardly a day goes by that I don’t pass the hauntingly beautiful monument which was erected in their memory on the Promenade here in Tramore.
Back in 2012, I wrote a post about the four brave men who died on that fateful night on their way back from a Rescue Mission Tramore Remembers Brave Air Corps Helicopter Crew. It was a post that received no ‘public’ attention at the time but it is one that touched the heart of a great friend of one of the crew, Captain David O’Flaherty, who, for me, up to that point was one of the four names poignantly carved on the monument:
This short comment from Rory, which I received on a dark evening back in January, has opened a door into the wonderful person and handsome face behind these 9 words:
Hi Jean, True heroes of Ireland, as are all the men and women of the Air Corps and Coast Guard. Captain David O’Flaherty was my best friend and I miss him very dearly…..
Rory and I have exchanged many emails since January and it transpires that he and David had been friends since early childhood. Here’s an insight into the depth of their friendship and the way their lives were interwoven.
David and I were best buds in school. We went on a trip to London (by ourselves) when we were 14 and went to an air show in Hendon, London. After that he wanted to be a Pilot.
David went to UCD with my wife (my girlfriend at the time) to do a science degree and was recruited into the Cadets in the Curragh immediately.
David and Maria got married in Baldonnel and what a brilliant day that was …..
Maria was 3 months pregnant (so was my wife) when the lads were killed so he never got to see his beautiful daughter …..
This year marks the 15th Anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash in Tramore and I feel honoured to have been able to ‘get to know’ Captain David O’Flaherty through his loyal friend. Interestingly, when I asked Rory if there was a song or poem or some words that he associated with David, his response was in the form of the motto of the Irish Air Corps Search and Rescue Service: