Funeral for the oldest victim of the Creeslough explosion begins

Mourners lined the streets of the rural village to say goodbye to a member of their community for the fourth day in a row.

14 October 2022

The funeral mass for the oldest victim in the Creeslough explosion has begun at St Michael’s Church.

People lined up on the Co Donegal village’s main street for the seventh funeral of the 10 people killed in the blast at a service station a week ago.

Hugh Kelly, 59, was the oldest of the victims.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh are among those attending the service.

Leona Harper’s parents were also among the mourners at the funeral service.

At 14-year-old Ms Harper’s funeral on Thursday, those in attendance heard that the families and communities impacted by the tragedy are “lost in a fog of grief” and painful sadness.

Mourners at her funeral at St Mary’s Church in Ramelton, Co Donegal, heard how her parents, Hugh and Donna, talked of their daughter as a “gem” which shone brightly.

Earlier on Thursday, mother-of-four Martina Martin was also laid to rest, with Fr John Joe Duffy saying the shop worker had an “abundance of love”.

Mrs Martin, 49, was working in the shop when the explosion happened at a service station in the rural village.

The funeral of Leona, who was a talented rugby player and sister to two older brothers, Anthony and Jamie, heard how her sudden death has left all those who knew and loved her “shell-shocked and grief-stricken”.

Explosion at Donegal service station
A Liverpool FC flag is flown as members of Letterkenny Rugby Club join mourners outside St Mary’s Church for the funeral Mass of Leona Harper (Brian Lawless/PA)

Fr Duffy told mourners the community of Creeslough was growing in strength each day to get through the hours and days ahead.

“Creeslough is a small village but it is now more than just that. It is now a word for determination, for resolve and for togetherness and how important togetherness is,” he said.

“This tragedy has reignited within all of us, myself included, that each one of us are only as strong as the families we have around us, only as strong as the community that surrounds us.”

Martina Martin
Martina Martin (An Garda Siochana/PA)

At the end of the service, Fr Duffy urged people affected by the tragedy to contact local counselling services – saying he intends to do so too.

The funerals of Jessica Gallagher, 24, and Martin McGill, 49, were held in Creeslough on Tuesday, while those of Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her son James Monaghan, 13, were held in Creeslough on Wednesday afternoon.

A service for James O’Flaherty, 48, was held on Wednesday morning in Derrybeg.

The funeral service for the youngest victim, Shauna Flanagan Garwe, five, and her father Robert Garwe, 50, is to take place in St Michael’s Church on Saturday morning.

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