Pictured are members of the Portadown Pikers Group at the Coosan memorial on Saturday.

Lough Ree angling tragedy remembered five years on

Two Armagh fishermen who lost their lives five years ago in Hodson Bay were poignantly remembered this week in Athlone.

Daryl Burke (30) from Portadown, and David Warnock (27) from Richhill, were on a fishing trip on Lough Ree when their boat sank close to Hodson Bay in poor weather conditions on March 20, 2014. Another friend, John Trimble, from Markethill in Armagh was the sole survivor of the horrific lake tragedy.

All three were members of the Portadown Pikers angling group. On Saturday last a group, including John Trimble, travelled to Athlone to remember their friends five years on and lay wreaths at a memorial in Coosan Point where all those who lost their lives in the lake and in the Shannon are remembered. A plaque and seat by the lake is dedicated to the two late fishermen.

“On March 20, 5 years ago today we lost two of our founder members on Lough Ree. Thinking of them and their families on this sad day. Our sympathy is with you always.

“Also for our treasurer John Trimble who has had to live with what happened every day since. Not forgetting our club members past and present who are still in shock to this day. RIP Daryl and David. Gone to fish calmer waters,” the Portadown Pikers club poignantly posted on Facebook this week on the anniversary of the lake tragedy on March 20.

During their visit the Armagh group also made a donation to the local RNLI station and met members of the group who, with others, spent several weeks searching for the body of Daryl Burke following the tragedy. The young father's body was only recovered on April 5.

Damien Delaney from Lough Ree RNLI was involved in that search and he says the club and people in Athlone are still very much remembered by the three families, who travel to the area several times a year and support their fundraisers and events. 

He met the group on Saturday, commenting that it is amazing the bond that has developed between them since the terrible tragedy. 

Back in 2017, speaking at the unveiling of a plaque and seat in memory of the anglers in Coosan Point, John Trimble, the only survivor of the tragedy said: “Every day I think of them, it's all memories. It never leaves you. You can talk from night to morning but the next day it's there again”.

“It gets a bit easier but it’s not some thing that is going to go away,” he added, stressing the one good thing to come out of the sadness is the ongoing links and friendships that have been created between Athlone and Armagh ever since.