“ TENDER bunches of daffodils might seem odd in hands more used to
hauling nets and ropes but not today. The flowers are passed hand
over hand and placed in a heap on top of the fishing boat's
wheelhouse. As we turn out from Skerries harbour the seas are calm,
the sun is big and bright and low, diffused by morning mist. It's
early but not that early.”
“ A little over five hours before, Ronan and David were found together
by a fishing boat and we're going out to pay our respects.
"It's a victory run," says one of the eleven men up top, crew of the
Gadus and some friends and other fishermen, all with a strong
connection to the sea, and all whom helped in the search for Ronan
and David,. and we're now ploughing through towards Rockabill lighthouse.
"I can't stop lookin'," says one crewman. "I keep looking out and
sayin' what's that bobbin' about over there!" He shakes his head
“ There are ballads playing now on stereo speakers placed outside the
wheelhouse windows. They're loud, jubilant. This feels right. There's
a real sense of relief in this fresh morning sea air and some of the
men quietly joke, easy in each others' company. This feels right too.
"This should be a joyful day," says one. "It IS a joyful day."
But everyone is deeply sad. It shows. Many say nothing at all, they
just look out with hard eyes across the calm.
"I saw Ronan just before he went out that day," says another man. "He
was crossing the road. We spoke to each other. I said I'd see him at
the weekend for a pint. That was it, that was the last I saw him. I
can't believe it. It's unbelievable." His eyes are wet. He's not the
only man allowing their emotions to show on this boat today. And it's
fine. These men can look each other in the face and let a sadness
pass between them and it's honest.”
“Conversations drift in and out over the ballads. Now it's Black Gold,
performed by the Jolly Beggars. "The north sea wind..." Tea is passed
around, a few people light up.”
"It's brilliant they were found together, we couldn't have asked for
a better result," says another man as the lighthouse looms large now
dead ahead. "If just the one of them had been found, imagine . . ."
Then we're rounding Rockabill and seabirds wheel over the abandoned keeper's quarters.”
“The boat soon slows. The music is turned off. We're at the buoys
which mark the area where Ronan and David would lay their pots.
Someone starts to tidy up the tea mugs and papers on top of the
wheelhouse then the daffodils are passed around and one by one, each man in silence saying whatever they wish to say behind their eyes and to themselves or saying nothing, each to his own, and the bright flowers are thrown by the bunch to scatter in the air onto the sea, another and another lot until a yellow slick of petals dips and bobs in the gentle swell.And some men wipe their eyes with their sleeves and some men bitterly spit into the waves. And a goose takes off across the surface by one of the islands and it's the only sound.”
“The flowers stay together in the remnants of our wake, seeming not to want to part each other's company.Then we disassemble once more, each to his rail, or arms folded over the radio housing or leaned against the wheelhouse and the engine coughs itself awake and back to a throaty gurgle and the ballads are back and we're not looking back behind us anymore but towards home, to harbour.” "I'm proud to be from Skerries," says a young man to no one in particular, eyes like shards of blue glass. "Proud," he says again.
David Diebold -