Service will recall air-crash victims

 

The victims of the first fatal Aer Lingus crash, which happened 50 years ago tomorrow, will be remembered at an ecumenical service in Dublin this weekend.

Memories of the night the St Kevin, a Douglas DC-3, with 20 passengers and a crew of three, crashed in Snowdonia in north Wales remain vivid for those who had relatives on board. There were no survivors.

They include Mrs Gloria Binions from Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, whose aunt and uncle, Neville and Rosalind Aston, from Milltown in Dublin, were among those who died.

Mrs Binions, who organised the service and has managed to contact 15 of the victims' families through an appeal on the letters page of The Irish Times, was 11 when the tragedy happened.

"I remember the night so well," she said. "I was in a dancing school in Cork and we were dancing in a pantomime in the Cork Opera House. When the news came through I was taken out of the group and brought home.

"I wasn't told what had happened until the next day. It was a terrible tragedy for my mother because Rosalind Aston was her only sister."

A court of inquiry found the aircraft had encountered strong down-currents of air on the lee side of Snowdon mountain, forcing it into an area of strong turbulence. Control of the aircraft was lost and it came down into soft peat bog. The inquiry found that the accident was not caused by the wrongful action of any person.

The bodies of about half the victims were taken home for burial, but 11 others, who could not be identified, were laid to rest together in a cemetery at Caernarvon. Mrs Binions has been unable to contact five families who lost relatives in the crash but hopes they may still get in touch before Sunday.

The service, at Dublin Airport church at 2 p.m. on that day, will be led by Father Aidan Lehane. Senior company and pilots' representatives from Aer Lingus will also attend, and the company will host a reception afterwards.

Relatives wishing to contact Mrs Binions about the event can do so at 054-55220, or e-mail hurbi_eircom.net