THE CITY and country is mourning the loss of “unforgettable hero” Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who tragically lost her life while on board the coast guard helicopter which crashed this week.
The Kilternan native was one of four crewmembers on board the helicopter, Rescue 116, which went down off the coast of Mayo on Tuesday.
Its pilot and commander, Capt Fitzpatrick (45) had bravely saved lives for more than two decades on search and rescue missions.
The loving mother with a three-year-old son, Fionn, Capt Fitzpatrick and her crew had been providing top cover for another coast guard helicopter, Rescue 118, that was performing a medical evacuation off the coast of Mayo. Rescue 116 was returning to base when it fell out of contact and a search operation got under way.
Capt Fitzpatrick is survived by Fionn, her three sisters, her brother, and her parents. In a moving statement, her family said they are “so proud” of Capt Fitzpatrick, and of “her work and all she has done to save the lives of others over the years”.
It added: “We are completely heartbroken and we pray for the recovery of the other three crew.”
As a well-known face in Kilternan, the community is in shock at the loss of its local, friend and neighbour.
Cllr Lettie McCarthy (Lab) told The Gazette: “The community are grieving with the Fitzpatrick family. It’s a very sad loss of life, but Dara died doing what she loved doing.”
A former student of Muckross College in Donnybrook, Capt Fitzpatrick’s sister, Niamh Fitzpatrick, said that her sister was “selfless and caring”.
Writing on social media, she said: “My brave sister, Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, lost her life in the Rescue 116 crash. We are devastated. Please pray for recovery of the three remaining crew.”
On Morning Ireland, she said: “Dara is all about family – I can’t bring myself to say ‘was’ yet.”
Tributes have been pouring in for Capt Fitzpatrick, who was described as “incredible, kind, patient and inspiring”.
A former coast guard colleague, Jim Griffin, said: “Dara was an exceptional lady; she was assertive, elegant, a very calm presence.”
The search for the remaining Rescue 116 crewmembers – Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy and Ciaran Smith – was ongoing at the time of going to print.

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