IN a week when coastal emergency services have seen another tragedy, Cork footballer Brian Hurley has come on board to support the RNLI’s partnership with the GAA to prevent drowning.
Hurley was in Croke Park recently to help launch a major new partnership between the RNLI and the GAA, aimed at reducing the number of people who lose their lives though drowning in Ireland.
Brian, from Union Hall, lives close to the RNLI station where his brother Stephen and Shane are lifeboat crew and his father Haulie is a member of the onshore crew.
Brian recalled one of the most tragic days in West Cork’s maritime history, when the Tit Bonhomme sank, in 2012.
Speaking at the launch, Hurley said: ‘I live about 20 yards from the pier in Union Hall. Going back five years ago to the Tit Bonhomme tragedy, I can remember waking up that morning and there was a lot of commotion going on outside. Me and the brother rushed across the pier to see what was going on and we got wind that a trawler was going down at the mouth of the harbour. Before I knew it, I was on a trawler heading out to see if we could help out in any way. Unfortunately, we got the bad news that it was Tit Bonhomme that had gone down. With such a small community, we knew exactly who was onboard, we knew Michael (Hayes) from being around the village. That was very difficult and it hit the community very hard but everyone pulled together.’
Brian added that the hardest thing was as the time went on, it wasn’t about rescue anymore, but recovery. ‘The effort was unbelievable so that is why I got involved because it’s on my own doorstep and when it hits you close to home. Fortunately, we got a lifeboat down in Union Hall and it has been very successful since and that is great to see. That’s why I got involved. I don’t what families to go through what the Hayes family went through and the community went through.’
Also at the launch was Dublin athlete Lyndsey Davies, who also has a strong connection with the Tit Bonhomme tragedy.
Lyndsey’s grand uncle was Michael Hayes, the Tit Bonhomme skipper, who lost his life in the tragedy.
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghaíl said: ‘In the RNLI the GAA sees an organisation that mirrors its core values of community activity and volunteerism.’