11 October 2022, The Tablet

Funerals take place for those killed in Creeslough explosion

Prayers have been said in churches across Ireland for the dead, the bereaved and those injured.

Funerals take place for those killed in Creeslough explosion

The coffin of Jessica Gallagher, 24, leaves St Michael's Church, Creeslough, after her funeral mass.

Funerals are taking place this week for the ten people who died in an explosion at a service station and an apartment block in the small Co Donegal village of Creeslough.

It is believed that the tragedy may have been caused by a gas explosion.

Prayers have been said in churches across Ireland for the dead, the bereaved and those injured.

Pope Francis was among those who expressed solidarity over the loss of life and injuries. A message sent to Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe said Pope Francis was “saddened to learn of the loss of life and destruction caused by the explosion in Creeslough and he expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy”.

The Pope also prayed for divine blessings of consolation and healing upon the injured, the displaced and the families coping with the pain of loss.

In a message to President Michael D Higgins, King Charles III said his “most heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences” were with those who had lost loved ones. He said he and the Queen Consort were “filled with immense sadness” when they heard of the “appallingly tragic” explosion.

The four men, three women and three young people who died ranged in age from five to 59. The youngest person killed was five-year-old Shauna Flanagan Garwe who was buying a birthday card for her mother when she and her father Robert Garwe were killed.

Speaking ahead of the first funeral, parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy told RTE that local people in the village, which has a population of 400, were “full of grief”.

“When you saw a beautiful young person coming home...” he said, “the enormity of the tragedy” became clearer.

Bishop Alan McGuckian described the tragedy as “the darkest day in Donegal”. In his homily at St Michael’s Church, the Bishop of Raphoe said, “the people of Creeslough are living through a nightmare of shock and horror”.

Noting how so many people had referred to the tragedy as “random”, he added: “There is something deeply shocking and upsetting about what life can throw up. It is fundamentally a terrible realisation that we are not masters of our own destiny; we are very fragile and vulnerable.”

Emergency services praised Cresslough locals who dug through debris to help those trapped in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. Chief ambulance officer, JJ McGowan, told RTE: “People in flip-flops, shorts, T-shirts” helped remove rubble in the frantic search for survivors.

A man remains in a critical condition in hospital and seven others are recovering from their injuries.  

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