Search and Rescue. True Stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 Lorna Siggins (Merrion Press, Price €16.95)
Lorna Siggins’s update of her book Mayday, Mayday, covers the huge expansion of Ireland’s air-sea rescue services since 2004.
The time when mariners in distress off our coasts were almost entirely dependent on the Royal Air Force when a helicopter was needed is now long past. The Irish Air Corps provided an efficient service with their Alouette and Dauphin helicopters until they were replaced by the much bigger Sirkorsky models now leased from the Canadian Helicopter Corporation but flown by Irish crews.
The Coastguard service staffed unselfishly by local volunteers has also been upgraded and has carried out over 30,000 rescue operations since 1991. The RNLI has continued its mission of saving lives in even the worst of weathers, again with unpaid volunteers.
Unfortunately, there will always be fatal tragedies and Siggins begins her comprehensive account of many thrilling rescues with two tragedies where the rescuers were the victims. These were the crash of the R116 helicopter in Blacksod Bay with the loss of all four crew in March 2017 and the death of Coastguard Catriona Lucas in September 2016 during a search for a missing man off Kilkee.
Fortunately most of the rescues recounted in the book were successful thanks to the bravery of the helicopter and lifeboat crews and the dedication of the volunteer coastguards. Such voluntary service to others is a signof a healthy community. Siggins’s own expert knowledge of maritime matters makes this an authoritative record of heroism at sea.