Fisherman vows to bounce back after devastating fire

Fisherman Pat Friel on the pier at Ballywhoriskey as repairs are carried out on his trawler.

HUNDREDS of crab cages and more than 20 miles of rope were destroyed in a fire that almost took out a trawler on a pier at Kerrykeel.
Pat Friel’s boat, the Sanmar, sustained considerable damage in the blaze that broke out at Ballywhoriskey last Thursday. The fisherman estimates it will cost him more than €100,000 to make the Sanmar seaworthy again but says he is determined to be back at work within weeks.
Gardai are treating the incident as criminal damage and have appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Mr Friel, who employs three crew members, told the Donegal News his vessel’s communication systems bore the brunt of the blaze. Hundreds of crab pots and 22 miles of rope were also lost.
Revealing how he first learnt of the fire, Mr Friel said: “We had come in the previous evening and we were working on the hydraulics and a few other things. I left about 4pm and there was nothing at that time, no smoke, no fire. I got home at 4.40pm and I got a phone call telling me there was a lot of smoke coming from the pier and that I needed to get down there.
“I called the fire service on my way but by the time they arrived, the damage had already been done.”
Mr Friel has owned the Sanmar for ten years and uses it to fish for crabs 20 miles off the Donegal coast.
“The antenna, the radar dome, search lights, spotlights, navigational lights on the mast, they were all destroyed. There was a lot of damage to the wheel arch too and to the hood. At the minute we are talking about €100,000 to fix it all,” he said.
With no electrics and no radios, the Sanmar will be out of action for at least two weeks. 

The Sanmar trawler was extensively damaged by the fire.

“I’m trying to get different companies to get us up and running again but everyone is so busy at the minute,” Mr Friel said.
“We are waiting on the likes of engineers and fibre glass people but it is not that easy getting everyone in the same place at the same time. They have their work to do as well and they just can’t drop everything.
“But we just have to get on with it. There is no point in looking back. I have no idea what happened at all and I just have to keep going.
“It’s very unfortunate but what can you do about it? I won’t let this stop me and I’ll be back out as soon as I can,” Mr Friel added.

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