Skipper's family pays tribute to searchers


THE FAMILY of trawler skipper Michael Hayes whose body was recovered yesterday, some 25 days after the Tit Bonhommesank at the mouth of Glandore Bay in west Cork, has paid tribute to all those involved in the search.

Chief Supt Tom Hayes said the family were eternally grateful to all who had participated in the search for his brother and missing Egyptian fisherman Said Al Yeldin (23) who perished with three others when the Tit Bonhommesank.

Mr Hayes, a father-of-five from Helvic Head in Co Waterford, was returning from a three-day fishing trip for prawns when his steel-hulled trawler hit Adam Island at the mouth of Glandore Bay and sank in stormy seas on the morning of January 15th.

Mr Hayes (52) along with four of his crew, Egyptians Mr Al Yeldin, Attea Shaban (26), Wael Mohammed (35), and Kevin Kershaw (21) all died.

Only one man, Abdul Mohammed (42) survived the sinking.

The bodies of Mr Shaban, Mr Kershaw and Wael Mohammed were recovered within the first week of the search.

“We are hugely grateful to the people of Union Hall and west Cork, along with the people from Helvic and Bonmahon in Waterford and all over the country who have given so generously of their time and effort over the past few weeks,” Chief Supt Hayes said.

“Today is a great result for us and it lifts us all now as we focus our efforts on trying to find Said so he too can be returned to his family.

“We are all committed to doing everything we can to recover Said too for his family,” he added.

Chief Supt Hayes was among the searchers who recovered his brother’s body at approximately 12.35pm yesterday, some 900 metres from Adam Island.

According to Niall Twomey of west Cork Civil Defence, Mr Hayes’s body was spotted simultaneously by a team searching the shoreline and searchers on board some rigid inflatable boats, who proceeded to recover his body from the water.

Searchers had focused their efforts on that area as they had noticed some debris there and the body of Mr Hayes, clad in a punctured lifejacket, suddenly came to the surface in an area they had searched without success 10 minutes earlier.

Mr Hayes’s body was taken back to Union Hall pier where his wife, Caitlin Ní hAodha and their five children, Lia, Eagla, Micheál, Ferdia and Dearbhaile were waiting.

There were poignant scenes as, in keeping with a local tradition, Mr Hayes’s coffin was shouldered first by his family, then by local fishermen and the local community and then by members of the Egyptian community from the pier back to the village.