Glowing tributes were paid to members of SEMRA at a Civic Reception hosted by Tipperary Cahir Cashel MD last evening. The event was proposed by Cathaoirleach Cllr Mary Hannigan Hourigan and the acknowledgement proposed was widely supported by her fellow councillors. Speaking on behalf of the Group Chairperson Gerry Tobin said that he was humbled to hear the words of praise and gratitude. Mr Tobin wished to remember especially those that did not return from the mountains – walkers and members of Rescue groups alike.
Eight present and former members of SEMRA attended – led by Chairperson Gerry Tobin, Team Leader Pat Murphy and Training Officer Marie Lawlor. Jimmy Barry, now retired from SEMRA was also lauded for decades of commitment to SEMRA and it’s volunteers. The group were praised for their volunteerism and dedication to the cause of helping others. The late John Dunne who died in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks earlier this month was also remembered by the Cathaoirleach in her remarks. Cllr Hanna Hourigan also noted that operational costs were €60,000 annually yet the government funding provided was only €20,000 meaning the group had to fundraise and rely on donations. The event was held at the Council offices on Rosanna Road. SEMRA members were presented with a piece of carved Bog Yew that had been specially commissioned for the occasion.
Local councillors, Superintendent Eddie Golden and Deputy Mattie McGrath attended to pay tribute to SEMRA. The presence of both the Kockmealdowns and the Galtees in the District was noted by several speakers – and while Tipperary Tourism and Munster Vales were successfully promoting the region it meant that more people were now using the mountains for recreation. The council offered all possible future support to the group. A special presentation was made to local woman, Liz Browne, a member of the council staff who also volunteers with SEMRA. The organisation has 57 highly trained volunteer members from the South East region and was founded in 1977. To date SEMRA has completed over 600 search and rescue operations.
Echoing the tributes paid to SEMRA, Anthony Coleman, District Administrator appealed to those going walking to make some essential preparations before undertaking a walk or hike. He advised that people should be careful in selecting routes, wear appropriate footwear and clothing and always tell someone of their plans. Mr Coleman said with better preparation the risks involved could be reduced and the number of rescue incidents reduced. He also took time to acknowledge the families of the volunteers describing them as the “bedrock of the community. “