Homily of Father Andrew O’Sullivan at Funeral Mass of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick RIP

18 Mar 2017


St. Patrick’s Church, Glencullen, Co. Dublin, 18 March 2017. 

This church, over the years of its history, has seen many sad and tragic funerals, but few can have been as profoundly sad and sorrowful as the funeral that gathers us here today.

The news of Dara’s death was a message that shocked and saddened all who knew Dara and her family. As the news unfolded about the terrible tragedy of coastguard rescue helicopter 116 and its four crew members, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick; Captain Mark Duffy; Winchman Ciaran Smith and Winch Operator Paul Ormsby our hearts broke for this outstanding crew and their families.

As we honour Dara today with the rites of Christian funeral we are also very mindful of Dara’s three crew members who have yet to be found, and we commend them to God and we keep them and their families foremost in our thoughts and prayers during this Mass that their nightmare of waiting may soon be over.

Dara’s tragic death has stunned all of us gathered here this morning. In particular, it has created a deep void in the lives of her loving family who are truly heartbroken. The reality of death with all its pain and sense of terrible loss, confronts us at this moment. But as we are united in sorrow, we are also united by something else – our faith. Our faith opens our minds to the whole picture about life and death and what happens after death. Only in the light of faith can be begin to understand what has happened to Dara and how we are to keep going from here.  When in our faith, we speak about Heaven and resurrection, and the next life; we do not speak about these things primarily because they give us consolation and strength.   They certainly do that. But the primary reason we speak of these things is because they are true. God has spoken his word to us, we hear it in the sacred Scriptures, and in the teachings of the Church, God has broken the silence about death, and told us that He has conquered it. He sent Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose again. There are those who say that the story of Human Life is birth, life and death. 

For us Christians, it is different. We believe in Jesus Christ, our Risen Saviour, a God who loves us all deeply and so death is not the last chapter of the human story; there is another chapter to come; and that is resurrection. Belief in the resurrection does not relieve us of our grief, nor does it remove our tears, but rather it allows them to glisten faintly in the light of Christ; our hope; our saviour.

We are all here this morning to remember Dara and also to offer our support to the Fitzpatrick family. Through our presence here in such great numbers we are stating publicly that we too recognise the blessing that Dara was.   We are expressing gratitude to the Fitzpatrick family for moulding Dara into that wonderful young woman and mother that she was.  Over the last few days many stories have been told about Dara and how she was a wonderful colleague and friend and indeed of the incredible professionalism and bravery of those in the coastguard and in our emergency services. How these extraordinary people put their own lives at risk in order to save others – what bravery! And they truly are heroes.

Dara loved travelling and had so many adventures. She was not only a professional and talented pilot and excelled in what she did, but also, a great horsewoman, she loved donkeys; a hillwalker and an adventurer. Dara was quite shy and she hated “small talk”. She was kind to her core and a champion of the underdog. She was fiercely loyal and her family was of paramount importance to her…. Her family describe her sense of humour as “goofy” and she had a great ability to find the fun in life. I know today, that Dara’s family take great consolation in the fact that she lived life to the full – she packed a lot in. Dara loved to cook and as her sisters say –  she was a feeder – she made a mean chocolate roulade for her work colleagues and for home. Dara loved her clothes and most especially her Gucci boots and her Tom Ford perfume. As her family put it: a beautiful young woman, who of course, got her looks from her family! The day Dara formally adopted Fionn was one of the happiest days of her life and that of her family. Fionn, now embodies Dara’s characteristics of family – he loves to and often instigates the family group hug – Dara adored Fionn.

A tragic death like this teaches us suddenly and painfully something deeply true.  Life, too, is so important.    There would be no such sense of loss and grief unless we suddenly saw that life is very precious.    When a life is torn away from us, then, we see that our friends, people, life are all that matter.

It is in trust and hope in the Lord that the sadness of parting will be followed at the end of our own lives by a reunion in which God will wipe away every tear from our eyes  –   May you now Dara, see your Redeemer, face to face.

Introductionto Mass for Dara Fitzpatrick Dara Fitzpatrick RIP

The news of Dara’s death was a message that shocked and saddened all who knew Dara and her family.

We could scarcely believe it then – we can scarcely believe it now.

We have lost a valued and loved member of our community and the wider community.   We have lost a talented young woman, who along with her colleagues lived good and generous lives and did so much in helping others in their time of need.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the crew –  the Duffy, Smith and Ormsby Families at this heart-wrenching time – and with all their colleagues in the coastguard. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with Dara’s loving family ; her son Fionn  – her father John and her mother Mary;  her sisters Niamh, Orla and Eimear, her brother Johnny, brother in law Ciaran – Johnny’s fiancée Olga and  extended family, friends colleagues and neighbours.  May the God of all consolation be with you all .  


  • Mass was celebrated by Fr. Andrew O’ Sullivan, PP Sandyford, Glencullen and Kilternan.