Western People — The diving club pays special tribute to its founding member


Members of the Grainne Uaile Sub Aqua Club and Search and Recovery Unit on duty at the Bronze Man Triathlon in Belderrig recently.

Members of a local diving club paid special tribute to one of its founding members who tragically died in a rescue operation nearly 25 years ago,

Over the August bank holiday weekend, members of the Grainne Uaile Sub Aqua Club and Ballina Search and Recovery Unit took part in the safety cover of the Bronze Man Triathlon in Belderrig, along with club members Garda Sub Aqua.

After the event, the members went to Benwee Head Cave to say a silent prayer for their club man Michael Heffernan who tragically lost his life on the October weekend in 1997 while rescuing a family local.

Mr Heffernan, who was 38 at the time, was an experienced local diver and founder and training manager of the Grainne Uaile club in Ballina.

During the incident, Mr Heffernan helped save the lives of the Murphy family of Ballycastle, who were exploring the caves on Horse Island when their boat ran into trouble.

Another man, Will Ernest von Bellow (53), a retired German businessman who lived in the North Mayo area and had traveled with the Murphy family, also died in the tragic incident, while two garda divers were brought to safety.


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