First funeral for Creeslough blast victims taking place

Jessica Gallagher, 24, was one of ten people killed in the blast in the Co Donegal village.

11 October 2022

The first funeral for the victims of the service station explosion in Ireland is under way in the Co Donegal village where the blast happened.

Mass for 24-year-old fashion designer Jessica Gallagher is taking place at St Michael’s Church.

Ms Gallagher, who had been due to start a new job on Monday, was one of ten people, aged from five to 59, killed in the tragedy in the village of Creeslough on Friday.

The funeral of Martin McGill, 49, who was originally from Scotland, will also be held at St Michael’s Church later on Tuesday.

Explosion at Donegal service station
The hearse carrying Jessica Gallagher, 24, arrives at St Michael’s Church, Creeslough (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ireland’s police force, An Garda Siochana, continues to investigate the cause of the blast in a building complex that included the service station and convenience store and residential apartments.

It is being treated as a “tragic accident”. A gas leak is one theory, it is believed.

Father John Joe Duffy, who will preside at many of the Creeslough funerals, said he was struggling to find words to encapsulate the enormity of the tragedy.

Ahead of the first mass on Tuesday, for Ms Gallagher, Fr Duffy told reporters: “It’s nothing we could ever have imagined, nor could any community have imagined.

“There are no words. I’m trying to find words this morning. I’m one of the locals here, I am one of the people, I am ordinary, I may wear this collar but I’m ordinary, I’m struggling to find words. Maybe words will find me this morning.

“I went there to reflect at the scene, I saw a little photograph that somebody had placed among the flowers of a dog who was sitting on stones looking out from a doorway on to a brighter sky.

“So, all that we can pray for is that, through the help of everyone, that the families will manage to get through this and I am worried for people.”

Explosion at Donegal service station
People attend a vigil at Market Square, Letterkenny, on Monday evening (Liam McBurney/PA)

The other eight victims were 50-year-old Robert Garwe and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who were in the shop to buy a birthday cake; 48-year-old James O’Flaherty; 14-year-old Leona Harper; 39-year-old Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan; 59-year-old Hugh Kelly; and 49-year-old Martina Martin.

Mr O’Flaherty’s funeral will be in St Mary’s Church in Derrybeg on Wednesday morning.

A joint service will be held for Ms O’Donnell and her son James at St Michael’s in Creeslough on Wednesday afternoon.

A funeral for Ms Harper is to take place at St Mary’s Church, Ramelton on Thursday.

Mrs Martin, a mother of four, will also be laid to rest on Thursday with a service at St Michael’s Church, Creeslough.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.