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Rescue 116: Funeral of captain Mark Duffy takes place

Capt Mark Duffy Image copyright Irish Coast Guard
Image caption Capt Mark Duffy was one of four crew members on board the Rescue 116 helicopter

An Irish Coast Guard captain who died in a helicopter crash during a rescue mission had "a desire in all things to help and be of service", mourners at his funeral have heard.

Capt Mark Duffy died when the Rescue 116 aircraft crashed about 13km off the County Mayo coast on 14 March.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rescue teams gave a guard of honour as Capt Duffy's body left the County Mayo coast after being recovered last week

His body was found last Friday inside the helicopter, which lies about 40m underwater in the Atlantic Ocean.

He was one of four crew members on board when the helicopter crashed.

A lone piper led the Capt Duffy's funeral cortege to St Oliver Plunkett Church in Blackrock, County Louth on Thursday, where a service, attended by Irish President Michael D Higgins, was held.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Colleagues carried Capt Duffy's coffin into church for his funeral service

His coffin was followed by his wife Hermione and their children Esme and Fionn.

Capt Duffy's uncle, Father Stephen Duffy, led the service, and told mourners he had lost his "best friend", who was "one of God's finest creatures".

He added that his nephew had been proud to serve as a pilot and his "first thoughts were always for his children".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Capt Duffy had "a desire in all things to be of service", his uncle Fr Stephen Duffy said

"Indeed, he had other attributes which singled him out - a vivacity, a tremendous sense of fun."

Fr Duffy said the crash and loss of the crew was "more than a family grief - it is a community catastrophe".

Uniformed officers and colleagues from the Irish Coast Guard and other rescue services guarded the coffin as it was carried indoors.

Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption The helicopter crashed near Blackrock island, after assisting in the rescue of a fisherman

The body of only one of Capt Duffy's other colleagues - Capt Dara Fitzpatrick - has been recovered from the sea.

Capt Fitzpatrick's funeral was held in County Dublin almost two weeks ago.

Searches are continuing for the other crew members, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby.

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