Scenes by Random Irish Photos of the return of the LE Eithne to Ireland [Cork harbour] following a tour of duty of the Mediterranean which included rescuing capsized migrants.
A few days ago, government ministers were tripping over themselves to be seen with the crew of LE Eithne.
The recent trip to Malta saw not one but three ministers, plus a rake of military top brass and high-ranking civil servants all on hand in the baking Maltese sunshine to welcome the Naval Service’s flagship into port at the end of her humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean.
Even the ship’s send off from its base in Cork merited not just Defence Minister Simon Coveney, but also the Taoiseach.
Earlier today, however, it was a moment where the political classes took a step back and let the crew and their families enjoy the moment they had all been waiting for since being deployed on May 16.
As the only ministerial attendee, Minister Simon Coveney kept it short and sweet – with a brief review of the guard of honour and then the families burst forward into the arms of their loved ones.
The LE Eithne has been operational for six weeks, carried out 22 separate rescue missions and rescued 3,400. A total of 170 of these were children.
The EU’s €120 million Triton mission, which replaced Italy’s Mare Nostrum migrant operation, started after growing concerns about the fate of migrants fleeing war-torn Africa and seeking a new life in Europe. Up to 1,000 migrants died in an horrific 24-hour period in April.
Minister Coveney confirmed earlier this month that Ireland will remain in the Mediterranean as part of the Triton mission until at least the end of September.
Each of them men were screened five times and they are to be screened a sixth time not that they are back on home soil.They were screened before leaving their base in Sierra Leon, then at Sierra Leon Airport, then they were screened again when they were travelling through Morocco and they were screened twice in the UK before returning to the Casement Aerodrome earlier today.
Of their time in Sierra Leone, Captain Eugene O’Connor said:
‘We were all spread out all over the country, so we all have different experiences. Obviously there is a degree of poverty there and a degree of fear with the virus But that was something that was on our minds all the time.
‘When we arrived in country, there was a spike in cases And there was always a concern that it was going to spiral out of control.We were pressed into immediate areas of hot spots quite quickly. Between all the agencies, they managed to get a hold and stymie the outbreak at that stage. So within about a month, cases began to level off and so they are almost at zero but it’s a bumpy road. It never just goes 360 cases to zero.’
Captain O’Connor was met his mother Mary, sister Tracey and Gillian, his niece Milla Banerjee, nephew Ben Banerjee, and his Italian girlfriend, Miranda Pio. Also travelling with Cpt O’Connor were Sgt David Sliney, Cpls Frank Noonan and Pierce Foley and trooper Richard Fitzgerald.
Scenes by Random Irish Photos from the Red Bull’s Wings For Life World Run charity race raising money for research into spinal injuries.
The Wings for Life World Run is a global running event in 35 locations around the world starting at precisely the same time (12 noon)
Among the more than 2,000 runners were Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Irish rugby’s Simon Zebo, GAA’s Joe Canning, triathlete Con Doherty, European Championships Gold-winning sailor Annalise Murphy and model Alison Canavan.
Scenes from Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast host to the Red Bull Crashed Ice Event for downhill skaters.
Yesterday’s heats for skaters from all over the world – including seven from the Republic – trying to get a chance for the finals tomorrow night.
They included the south’s Graeme Pollard, who is currently in 16th place, Paul Kennedy, who is 18th, and 21st-place Christopher McConnell.
More than 40,000 spectators are expected to attend over the two days of a series of races that will see competitors reaching around 65kph down the 430m-long track that leads down from the steps of Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
Crews of workers spent 34 days setting up the 10cm-thick artificial ice track and five days of round-the-clock work to create the massive 337,000 cubic litres of ice that is being kept frozen with 22,500 meters of cooling pipes.
Scenes by Random Irish Photos from inside the Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational & Cultural Centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin before and during this afternoon’s address (followed by prayers) by Imam and Islamic theologian, Dr Umar Al-Qadri (above).
Dr Al-Qadri condemned the recent murders in Paris He also drew comparisons between how some might perceive the wider Muslim community on Ireland to the way the Irish in Britain were perceived in the 1970s and 80s during the IRA’s bombing campaign.
Scenes from Xmas day in Dublin by Random Irish Photos.
It was a day of disaster and joy for a variety of Dubliners today. But mostly joy.
A taxi driver saw his car go up in flames on Cathal Brugha Street around 9am. Meanwhile a few streets away on Marlborough Street, female choristers assembled before 10am mass, followed at 11am by the boys. Slipping in with minutes to spare was Michael D and his good lady.
Some distance away was Lorraine Fitzsimons, of Age Action, handing out food and other goodies to a small army of volunteers who brought them to some 44 elderly in need from all over the city.
Helping her provide for ‘older people, living alone, with nobody to go to and nobody to come and visit’ was her brother Michael.
And in Ballsbridge, the Knights of St. Columbanus were on hand with their Christmas Day dinners for the homeless and others at the RDS. Among them was Noel Brennan, 62.
Originally from Limerick, he hasn’t spoken to the last remaining member of his family – his older brother Paddy – for more than 20 years. And since his partner Rose died in 2010, ‘things just haven’t been the same’. But maybe, he wonders, if Paddy sees his picture, he might get in touch.Also at the annual event was married couple Clay and Rachael McDonald, ex-Dubliners’ Eamonn Campbell and long-time homeless campaigner and city mayor, Christy Burke.
Rebecca Dunne, 27, from Tallaght. was one of the proudest Christmas Day mothers, with the 12.12am birth of son Azam. Weighing in at 7lbs 4 ounces, she posed for photos at the Coombe Hospital with husband Nadeem Siddiqui, 31, and 16-month-old son Moin.
Rebecca was out shopping on Christmas Eve when she had to quickly head into hospital for the delivery of a boy who had not actually been due till the 27th. The guy in the lift is a security guard who has worked at The Coombe on Christmas Day every year for the last 13 years.
Scenes by Random Irish Photos from the re-opening of St Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Co Longford this evening. The cathedral was gutted by fire during Christmas 2009 (top).
Tonight saw the first mass being held in St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford. Gutted by fire in 2009, more than €30 million has been been spent restoring the iconic neo-classical-style building named after the 5th century saint and uncle of St Patrick..
Just under 1,000 people turned up for the mass, which was celebrated by Fr Tom Healy – the last priest to say mass in the cathedral before it caught fire in the early hours of December 25, 2009.
Although it was originally thought to have been started by vandals, it was an accident.
It started in a section of a chimney flue in the old heating system of the building – that dates back to 1840 – sometime between midnight mass and 5am. It spread to the sacristy and then to the wood floor before catching wooden beams and roof.The heat was so intense that marble fittings melted. Indeed, 26 limestone columns would have to be completely replaced as they had shattered under the intense heat, which reached as high as 1,100c.
The roof was destroyed, the floor collapsed into the crypt and countless priceless religious artifacts and other treasures were destroyed. As well as paintings, tapestries and statues, they included St Mel’s 1,000-year-old wooden crozier.
Fr Healy recalled: “We had had a wonderful celebration of midnight Mass.It was just an almighty shock to be woken in the middle of the night and told the cathedral was on fire.
We just stood in the streets literally crying – helpless as we watched the flames break through the roof as it succumbed. So it was a time of enormous shock for everybody in Longford.”
Not all the art work was destroyed. An Italian oil painting (pictured) of the holy family survived the blaze unscathed, despite being located in centre of the blaze. It hangs over a side alter near the prayer offertory and has become something of an attraction among church goers.
Ronan Moore, the senior project manager who has helped guide St Mel’s restoration, said it should have been one of the first canvasses to be set alight.
‘We will never know how it survived,’ Ronan recalls in a new RTÉ documentary on the restoration of St Mel’s to be aired on RTÉ One this Christmas. ‘You can see it here just a few yards from some of the huge stone pillars and columns of the old church that were completely de-stabilised by the searing heat of the fire – turning to dust and had to be replaced. ‘Yet the painting stayed intact above it all – while all around it was destroyed by those huge temperatures.’
The cathedral this Christmas will also showcase restored Harry Clarke stained glass windows. The original windows were scorched and shattered in the fire. Over 675 tonnes of native blue limestone from Leighlin, Co Carlow, have been installed – for the columns, the hand-carved window surrounds, pilasters, and for replacement corbels for the bell tower, which also sustained some damage. To get this amount of limestone in the section sizes required, a staggering 10,400 tonnes had to be quarried.
‘The Longford Phoenix’ – a Would You Believe special documentary – goes to air on RTÉ One on 30 December at 6.30pm.
Helping Fr Healey celebrate mass was Bishop emeritus Colm O’Reilly and Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Francis Duffy.