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‘He found his god in his family and in the sea’: Sailor who drowned off Connemara remembered at memorial


A sailor from Limerick who died off the coast of Connemara in Co Galway last week “found his god in his family and in the sea”, a ceremony to remember him was told.

A celebration of Conor McLoughlin’s life was held at Foynes Yacht Club on the Shannon Estuary in Co Limerick on Wednesday, where his wife Bernadette said he “found his place and his people”.

“Conor was comfortable here, and he wasn’t a man who would be comfortable everywhere,” she said.

McLoughlin was sailing with his wife off the coast of Connemara near Carna in Co Galway last week when he was reported missing in waters off Cruach na Cara, better known to locals as Oileán Mhic Dara (Macdara’s Island).

He entered the water while attempting to retrieve a dinghy which had become detached from the yacht he was sailing with his wife. His body was recovered two days later from the shoreline near the graveyard on Maínis (Mweenish) island.

His wife thanked the people of Connemara for their “unbelievable kindness” adding that they “put their arms around us and they held us tight as our world fell apart.”

“I was looking at the Connemara fishermen in their little black boats who searched tirelessly for Conor, and then when the guards called off the search,” she said.

She said she “could still hear the tones of Connemara Irish all around me” as the local fishermen “totally ignored” the Garda call to end the search. This was a memory that would stay with her forever, she said.

She recalled the first boat which arrived at the scene after her husband had gone into the water, a red fishing vessel, which went straight to the dinghy which had floated off into the distance.

“It was a comfort to see that she was looking,” she said before thanking gardaí involved, as well as friends who came to Galway to assist in the search.

Once her husband was found, she insisted that he was not removed from the lifeboat until she arrived.

“He was Conor, he had seaweed in his hair, he had a broken nose, but he was our Conor and we got to hold him, and we got to talk to him as long as we wanted,” she said.

She described her husband as her rock, and “truly my other half”.

“He found his god in his family, in the sea, in the sky and in the stars and all around him,” she said, adding that despite being a damn decent engineer, “at heart, Conor was a craftsman”.

Lucy McLoughlin who flew home from Perth, Australia, when her father went missing described him as “the best dad anyone could have had”.

He was constant and dependable – and a supportive, logical man of few words, she said.

She recalled her father’s visit to Australia in November.

“I have just thought so many times over the past few days how grateful I am to have that time with him; they are memories I will treasure for the rest of my life,” she said.

“When I said goodbye to him at the airport in Perth, I could have never imagined that it would be for the last time.”



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