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Lightkeeper's portrait unveiled at event recalling Fastnet tragedy

August 28th, 2019 7:10 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Fastnet lighthouse keeper in 1979, Gerald Butler, standing next to a portrait of himself with the artist, Dan Llywelyn Hall, and Cape Clear museum director Dr Eamon Lankford.

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LIGHTKEEPER Gerald Butler has been immortalised in art form as part of an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fastnet race disaster of 1979.

Gerald was the lighthouse keeper at the Fastnet during the race and he alerted Baltimore RNLI that the yacht, The Regardless, had lost its rudder and needed assistance.

During their 24-hour rescue mission, the Baltimore crew also went to the assistance of another yacht, The Marionette, off Galley Head, where, coincidentally, Gerald now lives.

Lifeboat crews from both Baltimore and Courtmacsherry, as well as friends and family members of those who took part in the ill-fated race, or indeed lost their lives, came together on Cape Clear Island for the commemoration last  Sunday.

The Robert, the RNLI lifeboat that was used by the Baltimore crew, was central to the commemorations, which also included a lone bagpipe recital by Blaithín Ní Dhonnabháin. 

Kieran Cotter, coxswain of the Baltimore RNLI, observed that this year is also the 80th anniversary of the famous rescue of the Hazelside in 1939 by Cape Clear islanders, as well as the 100th anniversary of a mine explosion which occured outside the island’s North Harbour.

During Sunday’s event, prayers were said, and tributes were paid to those who continue to risk their lives to save others, particularly the RNLI.

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