Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill has welcomed the dedication of a memorial bench on Rathlin Island to all those lost at sea.
The bench, comprising a solid shaped Iroko wood top sat atop two large hand carved pieces of local stone, was constructed by artists from the island off the north Antrim coast.
The Minister had been inspired to provide support for the monument after hearing the story of Vincent Cecil, who died tragically following a boating accident in January 1983. Before losing his life in the accident, Mr Cecil bravely managed to save the life of an official who worked for the Department of Agriculture.
A large number of residents including Vincent Cecil’s family attended the dedication ceremony and the DARD official spoke warmly of the man who saved his life.
Speaking after the dedication, the Minister said: “I was inspired to provide support for the construction of this memorial by the story of Vincent Cecil, a courageous man who lost his life while saving the life of another. While I am sure his family still misses him, I am sure they are still immensely proud of him. I hope this bench will provide a space for peaceful reflection, for Vincent’s family, for residents and for visitors alike for many years to come.”
The bench is located on a site close to the harbour and an inscription: “To commemorate all those who have lost their life at sea. Inspired by Vincent Cecil 19/07/41 – 21/01/83” is carved into a piece of stone located directly behind the bench.