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CPT Dara Fitzpatrick

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Death 13 Mar 2017
Belmullet, County Mayo, Ireland
Burial Glencullen, County Dublin, Ireland
Memorial ID 177501013 · View Source
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Dara Fitzpatrick, aged 45, was the captain of Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116, which crashed into the sea off northwest Mayo with the loss of all on board. Captain Fitzpatrick’s body was recovered shortly after late on Monday, March 13th, as members of the Coast Guard, the Air Corps and people from the coastal community around Belmullet continued to search for her colleagues, pilot Mark Duffy and winchmen Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby. Capt Fitzpatrick’s father described his daughter as “beautiful, inside and out.” Tributes on behalf of the people of Ireland were led by Irish President Michael D, Higgins who expressed the nation’s gratitude for the “courage, resolution and exemplary commitment to the aims of the Coast Guard that Capt. Fitzpatrick and her colleagues have consistently displayed.” It was, said the President, a “dark day in the history of the Coast Guard.” From Washington, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed condolences to the Fitzpatrick family as did the chief of staff of the Defense Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

Dara Fitzpatrick grew up in Dublin with school interests in economics and business. In an RTÉ documentary many years later, she admitted those subjects were all she ever had an interest in until, at age 18, she heard about half-hour rides being offered on a Robinson helicopter. From then on, Dara's goals focused on a career involving helicopter flight. “I didn’t think of anything else from that day on,” she said. She was the central figure in the 2010 documentary film, "Rescue 117" which explained the work of her Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) team based in Waterford. A striking woman with bright red hair and a dazzling smile, in the film Capt Fitzpatrick displayed her professionalism, skill and passion for the job. Those qualities made her a role model particularly for young people. She gave generously of her time to schools and youth groups, sharing with them information about her work as a pilot and the work of the Coast Guard in general. Mark McGibney of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Dún Laoghaire, remarked on her devotion to and enthusiasm for her profession and the Sikorsky helicopter she captained, and of the pride she took in her CHC team, the private helicopter company that provided search and rescue to the Irish Coast Guard. On Monday night, she and her crew of three, Rescue 116, was deployed from Dublin to give “top cover” to another helicopter, Sligo-based Rescue 118, that had been dispatched on a mission to assist in airlifting an injured fisherman to hospital from a UK-registered trawler some 140km off Belmullet. The job of Capt. Fitzpatrick and colleagues was to provide watchful eye assistance to Rescue 118, hovering well above the airlift operation and advising as necessary. Before venturing out, Capt Fitzpatrick scheduled a routine re-fuelling stop at Blackrock lighthouse. Reportedly, upon approach, radio contact was lost and, for yet unknown reasons, Rescue 116 crashed into the sea. Expressions of condolence and solidarity followed swiftly from the SAR community throughout these islands and from as far off as North America and Australia. Despite the challenges in her work and often dangerous situations, Capt. Fitzpatrick never second-guessed her calling. “We see difficult things at times,” she said in the RTÉ documentary. “It can have its tough times and it's stressful but we absolutely love it. We love rescuing people. We’re all very dedicated to it and there’s no way in the world we’d do anything else in life.” Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland after her death was confirmed, one of her sisters spoke of the family’s devastation. “We are heartbroken but we have no regrets where Dara is concerned. She lived her life to the full. She loved what she did. She wanted to be a mother..." and so she adopted a child three years ago who, according to her mother, was the "light of her life." "They say it takes a village to raise a child and he has a village around him now who will raise him on her behalf.” Captain Dara Fitzpatrick received an award for her role in rescuing a pilot whose light aircraft ditched into the Irish Sea in 2010. She captained the first all-female Coast Guard mission in 2014 when she and a colleague flew a cardiac patient from west Cork to Cork University Hospital and then transferred a critically ill five-year-old to Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

Capt Fitzpatrick is survived by her son as well as her parents; her three sisters; and one brother. She was predeceased, exactly 39 years to the day before her own death, by a sister, Anna, who died at birth.




  • Created by: Soul Searcher
  • Added: 18 Mar 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 177501013
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for CPT Dara Fitzpatrick (unknown–13 Mar 2017), Find A Grave Memorial no. 177501013, citing St. Patrick's Cemetery, Glencullen, County Dublin, Ireland ; Maintained by Soul Searcher (contributor 48048221) .