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R116 remembered in Cavan with Mayo pipers


ON SONG The Tenor and Bass sections of the Clew Bay Pipe Band perform to a full house at the recent Rescue 116 Memorial Concert in Cootehill, Cavan. From left: Áine Regan, Leah Staunton, Molly Moore, Ailish Walsh, Nicole Gannon, Róisín Carney and Ray Cafferkey.

THE Clew Bay Pipe Band played a central role in the Rescue 116 Memorial Concert which was held in Cootehill in Cavan on Friday, August 25. The sell-out concert, which included music, dance and song, was held in honour of the four crew who lost their lives off the coast of Mayo in March: Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy and Winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith. Cpt Fitzpatrick’s family hail from Cootehill.
Part of the Cootehill Arts Festival, the event was held in a tiered-seating circus-type marquee with capacity for 400. The highlight of the ‘fitting and dignified’ concert was the performance by the Clew Bay Pipe Band, under the guiding hand of band leaders Peter Carney and Des Cafferkey.
The festival’s director, John Blakey, first saw the band perform when he was invited to a Chieftains’ gig in Westport. He knew straight away they would be a great fit for the concert.
“They did not disappoint,” he said afterwards. “The remit was to be respectful but not funereal, and that is exactly how they performed, with a blend of powerful music and joyous, even riotous songs, that had the entire audience, including some in their 80s, on their feet and dancing in the aisles.”
Ray D’Arcy was the compere for the evening, and he later described the band’s performance as ‘world class’. D’Arcy introduced Triona Marshall of the Chieftains and Martin Tourish of Altan, who played magically together.
Zeke Deighton, the well-known folksinger from Yorkshire, brought the house down with his amusing song about a cockerel, while Janice Igoe sang ‘Tears of Clew Bay’ with the band, to rapturous applause. Declan O’Rourke and the Roscommon Solstice Choir then joined in for Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, before the roof was lifted with the performance of ‘Mull of Kintyre’.
The concert began with a solemn fly past and salute by a coastguard rescue helicopter. A satellite link then relayed a lone piper at Blacksod, where Rescue 116 was lost, at sunset, as the rest of The Clew Bay Pipe Band joined in. This was immediately followed by the emotional world premier of ‘Irish Heroes’, a piping tune composed by Des Cafferkey and dedicated to the four crew.
The special programme printed for the concert had letters written by President Michael D Higgins and HRH Prince William, himself a helicopter rescue pilot. The director also thanked all of the performers for giving their services for free and all proceeds go to the RNLI.