COMMUNITIES in West Clare were united in grief this week following the tragic death of a Tullyrine craftworker after an accident north of Kilkee on Sunday, writes Dan Danaher.
According to a number of sources, Paul Dillon (42), Knocknagore, Kilkee, and formerly of Tullycrine, Kilrush was picking slack, a version of seagrass, on the shoreline near Farrihy Bay when he lost his footing and was swept out to sea.
Sea conditions have been described as treacherous at the time due to a very heavy swell.
A multi-agency search and rescue operation involving Kilkee Coast Guard, the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter – Rescue 115 – the Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat; National Ambulance Service and Gardaí was mounted after the alarm was raised around 2.15pm.
At around 3.19pm, the casualty was located and recovered from the water by the Kilkee Coast Guard unit.
The body was taken back to the Coast Guard station in Kilkee where he was formally identified by gardai and a family member. He was pronounced dead after resuscitation efforts by emergency medical technicians proved unsuccessful.
His remains were removed by hearse to University Hospital Limerick for a post-mortem examination.
Paul commenced employment with Clare County Council in December 2006 and worked in water services for a period of time until he took up a craftworker post in the West Clare Municipal District.
A Clare County Council spokeswoman said the deceased was a highly regarded staff member who would be dearly missed by all his colleagues and friends in the council.
“Paul was a valued member of staff and worked in West Clare Municipal District for the last number of years. The management, members and staff offer our deepest sympathies to his family at this very difficult time.”
A tribute posted on social media by Shannon Gaels GAA club recalled Paul and the Dillon family have been part of the club for decades.
Paul was a dedicated football and soccer player playing in all grades for Shannon Gaels throughout his underage days.
He won many championships including 16A (‘94) and 21A (‘99) championships with the club throughout the 1990’s usually lining out as a tight-marking corner back where he played in the Minor A final in 1997.
He also lined out for Tullycrine Celtic at left back in the early 2000s and was an ever present player, playing week after week.
Paul would be the first man out on the pitch home and away and was always supported by Roisín in attendance at every match. His enthusiasm and commitment was second to none.
“Paul will be remembered fondly as being a proud family man, very dependable, a loyal and solid friend, quietly going about his business on and off the field. Paul will be sadly missed by all and will forever be in our hearts.”
Councillor Cillian Murphy said his death has been a huge shock to the whole community.
“I met him at the guard of honour for another of his colleagues, Michael Ryan, on Friday. It’s unbelievable to think he is gone now as well, he was very well-liked and a popular man.
“I would have dealt with Paul on a number of issues in work here in the council and nothing was ever too much trouble for him.”
Kilmurry McMahon farmer, Seamus Shannon said there is a palpable sense of grief and loss in West Clare following Paul’s death. Mr Shannon said Paul was a lovely man whose family were well regarded in the local community.
Paul will be sadly missed by his loving wife, Roisín, nee Vaughan son, Thomas, daughter, Aoife parents Paddy and Kitty (Dillon), brothers John, Stephen and Patrick, sisters Siobhán and Edel, parents-in-law Philip and Marian (Vaughan), uncles, aunts, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, cousins, extended family, work colleagues in Clare County Council, neighbours and many friends.
His remains will repose at his home in Knocknagore Kilkee on Thursday from 2pm until 7pm. Access to the house, which is private at all other times, is via Kilkee- Doonbeg Road.
His funeral will arrive on Friday morning to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven Church, Doonbeg for Requiem Mass at 12 noon followed by burial in Lisdeen Cemetery, Kilkee.
All donations to Kilkee Sub Aqua Club Search and Recovery.