OVER 100 relatives, friends and colleagues of the tragic Rescue 116 crew gathered for a candle-lit vigil this morning a year on from their deaths.
All four crew members lost their lives when their helicopter went down near Blackrock Island, Co. Mayo in the early hours of March 14, 2017.
The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy were recovered after the crash.
Their colleagues, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith, were never found.
In the early hours of this morning, four lights lit up Glosh Tower, across Blacksod Bay, one each representing Ms Fitzpatrick, Mr Duffy, Mr Smith and Mr Ormsby.
In the dark and cold of night, when you are in need and you are in the most remote places of Ireland and her vast waters, a small number of strangers will step out into the darkness and come to your aid driven by a sole noble ethos "So that others may live..."#Rescue116 pic.twitter.com/C2SQuYbQ6E
— Irish Coast Guard (@IrishCoastGuard) March 14, 2018
A four-minute silence was then held for the crew with every light turned off, except for the four beacons which could be seen across the Mullet Peninsula.
Speaking today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said his thoughts were "very much with the families" on the first anniversary of the tragedy.
"It is the one-year anniversary, and they have been on my mind," Mr Varadkar said in Washington DC.
"I have been reading some of the coverage of the anniversary when I have had time over the past couple of days.
For all the calls, messages, prayers & hugs, a heartfelt thank you. We have an unbelievably tough time ahead, but the never-ending kindness & that powerful wave of support does help. Through these absolute worst times in life I have seen the absolute best of humanity. Thank you.
— Niamh Fitzpatrick (@NFitzPsychology) March 13, 2018
"I am a former Minister for Transport, so I know the Coastguard well, and indeed I met Captain Dara Fitzpatrick during my role as Minister.
"I am conscious at this stage that there are families who are still grieving and of course there are families who do not have the remains of their loved ones, and my thoughts are very much with them at this sad time."
Niamh Fitzpatrick, sister of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, tweeted: “For all the calls, messages, prayers & hugs, a heartfelt thank you.
“We have an unbelievably tough time ahead, but the never-ending kindness & that powerful wave of support does help.
“Through these absolute worst times in life I have seen the absolute best of humanity. Thank you.”