Paul Ormsby: “Dedicated to his family and job”

By Maurice Garvey

NEIGHBOURS of missing Coast Guard Paul Ormsby spoke of a person “dedicated to his family and job”, as searches continued to find the Ballyfermot man and his two colleagues Mark Duffy and Ciarán Smith.

Winchman Paul (50) and three crew members were on board the downed Rescue 116 helicopter which crashed off the coast of Mayo in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Paul Ormsby House Ballyfermot 16032017

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick died in the crash.

Paul was born in the family home on Oranmore Road, and lived there all his life.

Residents The Echo spoke to were in shock at the news – he was known locally as a man who loved his family, and someone who lived to help others.

Neighbours Harry (89) and May O’Neill (88), knew Paul all their adult life, having grown up beside the Ormsby family.

“I saw him the morning he left at 10am (Monday) when I was cutting the grass, and he said he hoped his crew would be up around the hills,” said Harry.

A tearful May recalled her own children’s childhood friend Paul.

“The two houses were more or less one house, our kids and their kids Paul, John, Patrick and Angela, would be in and out of the houses playing with each other,” said May.

“Paul was born in the house. My grand-daughter first told me of the news. I just didn’t dream it was him. Let’s hope we find the body.”

John Curran (69), another neighbour and close friend of Paul, shared a bond from their Irish Army days.

“I encouraged him to join the army, Paul was in the Aircorps in Baldonnel,” said John.

“He was a good guy – dedicated to his job. He loved his mother Kitty, and looked after her in old age, he wouldn’t let her go into a home.

“He got her a stair-lift, made her dinner every day, brought her for drives up the mountains. You would not get a better boy.”

After Kitty passed away over four years ago, Paul lived alone.

A local source said Paul expressed concern at the amount of recent shifts he was being asked to do.

“The week before last, he said he had five duties in a row, and told me he didn’t mind doing two, but five was a bit much,” said the resident.

“He said there was eight people on the panel, three were sick, and that he had to go in.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan said: “Today is a sad day for Ballyfermot, in particular for the family and friends of Paul Ormsby. Paul spent most of his adult life in the services of others.

“This close community in Ballyfermot has been in shock since the awful news of the crash came through. But the response from friends and neighbours is testament to the respect Paul is held in in Ballyfermot. He is deeply loved, missed and respected.”

R116 was assisting colleagues from Sligo in a rescue operation on a UK fishing vessel.

They lost contact at about 1am on a refueling journey to Blacksod.

Conditions were described as good when the helicopter lost contact on its final approach to Blacksod refuelling depot.

A major search, including the Irish naval ship LE Eithne, is being a carried out around 10km west of Blacksod, Co Mayo.
Families of the missing crew have been arriving at the scene as the search continues.

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