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Looking back and looking forward

Comment & Opinion

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are always transformative days. Days of reflection of what has went before, days of anticipation for what lies ahead.
The end of one year and the start of another always gives pause for thought as we look back on the good and the bad of what the year just ended has brought to our door; and we look forward to a new year, a fresh start.
This meaningfulness is heightened even more at the turn of the decade, which we are arriving at tonight.
The last ten years have brought more than their fair share of news in this county. Sadly, much as we might look for good news, too much of it has been bad news, tragic and troubling.
In next week’s Mayo News, our writers will reflect back on their stories of 2019 and also their stories of the decade.
The stories that left a lasting impact. Some of them will be uplifting. We love good news stories; it is only a pity there are not more of them.
But the stories that can often leave the longest lasting impacts do not have happy endings.
How could we ever possibly forget the devastation of the crash of Rescue 116 off Blacksod in March 2017. Four brave Irish people in the service of the State lost their lives in atrocious weather after their helicopter hit Blackrock Island whilst providing support for Rescue 118 for a medical evacuation of an injured fisherman 250km west of Blacksod.
The names of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winch man Ciáran Smith will forever be engrained in the Mayo consciousness, particularly those in Erris who were so supportive and helpful in the search operation which followed.
Here in The Mayo News, we will never forget the evening of Monday, July 29, 2013. Our print deadline was coming up when we heard the manic sound of several emergency vehicles careering through the town.
Something was badly wrong. We would soon discover it was far worse than any of us could have imagined. Sanjeev Chada had killed his two sons. They had went missing from their Carlow home the day before, and there was a nationwide search for Eoghan, aged ten, and Ruairí, aged five.
The horrible reality of what had happened emerged when Chada was discovered in his car, which he had driven into a wall at Rosbeg, outside Westport town. His sons had been killed earlier, in Ballintubber, and were found in the boot. It was an unspeakable horror.
Those two incidents stand out strongly in the decade just gone, but they were, sadly, far from isolated.
To name but a few – and run the risk of leaving others out – we think of the Gavin family in Castlebar, who lost their David to drowning in Canada in 2017; of the Blaine family whose much-loved Tommy and Jack, elderly brothers, were murdered in their own home in 2013; the Golden family in Ballina and Louth, who lost Garda Tony Golden, killed in the service of the State, in 2015.
Far too many families have had to endure losses that no one ought to be expected to bear in the decade just gone. To all of those who died before their time in the last decade, may their families find the strength to cope.
In The Mayo News here, too, we’ve had to endure a lot of tragedy and loss in the decade just gone. Just last summer we lost our Director, Natalie Berry, who is in our thoughts always, especially at Christmas, a time of year she absolutely loved.
It came less than two years after the sudden death of our Managing Editor Neill O’Neill in October 2017. The decade just gone also saw us say a farewell to legendary Mayo News figures like Martin Curry, Tony Moore, Eamon Connolly and our former Editor, Seán Staunton.
All deaths a constant reminder of the fleeting and fickle nature of life.
So as we look forward to a new decade, we do so remembering all of those who have went before us. Grateful for life and in the hope that all our problems will be little ones in the decade ahead.