Forty years ago yesterday three men died in an aircraft incident in the Galtees Mountains. The crash which all three men were killed in 1976 paved the way the establishment of more formal structures within the mountain rescue agencies and in 1977, the new structures resulted in the development of a voluntary and professional mountain rescue team for the south east, and in 1977 the South East Mountain Rescue Association was established, known today as SEMRA.
To mark the 40th anniversary, members of SEMRA, local people and a large number of relatives of the three men who died in an air crash gathered at the monument on the Black Road yesterday to commemorate the event forty years on. Family members paid tributes and memories were shared in what was a very moving occasion.
This year relatives were able to see the mountains and the crash site in the distance which was not possible at the commemoration 10 years previously due to poor visibility on the mountain that day. A small number of relatives and members of South Eastern Mountain Rescue continued on after the gathering at the monument to the remote crash site high on the mountain side.
The Air Corps who played a key role in the search and recovery back in 1976 were represented at the commemoration by 2nd Lt Niall Dungan.
SEMRA Chairman Roy Johnston said ‘The air crash in 1976 was a catalyst to the setting up more formal mountain rescue structures in 1977 and the development of voluntary professional mountain rescue service in the south east. Since SEMRA was founded in 1977 it has responded to three light aircraft crashes in the south east and one in Wicklow where they assisted our neighbouring Teams”.
The recent involvement of the team in the air crash on the Blackstairs in May 2015 made Saturday’s commemoration even more poignant as it connects the team closely to the events of 1976.
Photos: (South East Mountain rescue Association via facebook)