‘Any­body who has been on the edge has come back for me’

Clare Coast Guard vol­un­teer has talked down ‘11 or 12’ peo­ple on cliffs

The Irish Times - - Home News - Gor­don Dee­gan

Thomas Do­herty has been a vol­un­teer mem­ber of the Doolin unit of the Ir­ish Coast Guard for about 30 years.

In that time he says he has helped to talk down “11 or 12 peo­ple” who were con­tem­plat­ing tak­ing their lives along the Cliffs of Mo­her.

The de­spair­ing peo­ple en­coun­tered on the cliff edge, he says, range “from an 80year-old woman to a woman in her 40s”.

“Any­body that has been on the edge has come back for me. It is a good suc­cess rate ac­tu­ally. I hope it stays that way,” Do­herty says. “If they say they want to do it, I ask them to come for a chat.”

As part of his role as an Ir­ish Coast Guard deputy of­fi­cer, he usu­ally rep­re­sents the Doolin unit at in­quests re­lated to the cliffs, which are held in En­nis.

“The cliffs are a place of great beauty but of great sad­ness as well,” he says, af­ter at­tend­ing two sep­a­rate in­quest days over the last month con­cern­ing the deaths of four peo­ple along the cliffs this year.

Clare County Coro­ner Iso­bel O’Dea dealt with three cases from the cliffs on the same day this month, in­clud­ing one of a 28-year-old woman from South Korea who had made the 5,900-mile jour­ney to the renowned beauty spot in July. O’Dea also heard the case of a man in his 20s who trav­elled from Ger­many in April.

Power of per­sua­sion

Do­herty , who also works as a ranger at the Cliffs of Mo­her Vis­i­tor Ex­pe­ri­ence, re­called one suc­cess­ful sit­u­a­tion he was in­volved in three years ago, where it took from 10am to 8pm to per­suade a man from Manch­ester to step back.

The most re­cent “cliffs” in­quest held last week con­cerned the death of a Co Roscom­mon woman. It heard that Do­herty struck up a con­ver­sa­tion with the woman on the for­tunes of the Roscom­mon foot­ballers and other talk of the day as they

‘‘ The cliffs are a place of great beauty but of great sad­ness as well

walked from the cliffs en­trance at about 9am on June 19th last.

CCTV footage cap­tured the two walk­ing to­gether to the en­trance of the cliffs cen­tre where they parted ways, with the woman mak­ing her way to­wards the cliffs. He said he did not for a sec­ond sus­pect what was to come and that, co­in­ci­den­tally, six days later, he was part of the Ir­ish Coast Guard re­cov­ery team that re­trieved the woman’s body from wa­ters north of Doolin point.

Body iden­ti­fied

Do­herty iden­ti­fied the body as that of the woman he had spo­ken to six days ear­lier. At the in­quest, the woman’s sis­ter and he em­braced as they left the court­room at the end of the case.

Do­herty said that peo­ple fall­ing to their deaths at the Cliffs of Mo­her was not some­thing new. “I was very young, maybe 10 or 12, when I heard of the first one. A man had come down from Dublin,” he said.

To­day, there is sig­nage fea­tur­ing con­tact de­tails and in­for­ma­tion for the Sa­mar­i­tans lo­cated through­out the Cliffs of Mo­her vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence site and in the med­i­ta­tion room lo­cated at the en­trance to the site.

If you have been af­fected by this ar­ti­cle, help and sup­port is avail­able from the Sa­mar­i­tans on freep­hone 116123, or email jo@sa­mar­i­tans.org or phone Child­line on 1800-666666.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN ARTHUR

Thomas Do­herty: usu­ally rep­re­sents the Doolin Coast Guard unit at in­quests re­lated to the cliffs

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