12 October 2022

Cherish your family and life, 12-year-old son of Creeslough victim tells mourners at his father's funeral

12 October 2022

The son of one of the victims of the Creeslough disaster has told mourners at his father’s funeral to cherish their life and family.

Hundreds attended the funeral of James O’Flaherty at St Mary’s Church in Derrybeg, Co Donegal.

Mr O’Flaherty, an engineer, was originally from Sydney in Australia but had been living in Dunfanaghy, a few miles from Creeslough, with his wife Tracey and 12-year-old son Hamish.

Later on Wednesday afternoon, a Mass for another two victims – 39-year-old Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan – got under way at St Michael’s in Creeslough.

Irish President Michael D Higgins attended both funerals.

Pupils from Faugher National School, which Hamish attends, provided a guard of honour as his father’s remains were brought into the church.

Gifts were brought up at the beginning of the Mass including a Roald Dahl book, a box of chocolates and a framed family photograph.

Delivering an address at the funeral, Hamish said his father was a “great man”.

He said: “I am grateful for all the people who have come here today. I would just like to say a few words about my dad.

“He was a great man. He worked very hard and very long each day. Whether it was around the house or at work.

Use the time you have wisely. Also, be grateful for your life because that too will not last forever

“He wore a jacket with a huge paint stain on the side of it everywhere. He managed this by leaning on a wall which was still wet with paint.

“He wore the jacket everywhere. To the shops, to the movies, to the beach.

“I would like to say thank you to all of the people who have given and offered so many things. The emergency services too, who were there within 15 minutes and also came to the wake.

“I would also like to say something I have learnt in the past week or so: We should be grateful. For your families, cherish them, be grateful for they won’t be there forever.

“Use the time you have wisely.

“Also, be grateful for your life because that too will not last forever. Be grateful, for you will be able to rest after your hard work.”

The congregation gave the 12-year-old a round of applause.

Father Brian O Fearraigh said a light of friendship, love and support had come out of the Creeslough tragedy.

He told the mourners: “We have all experienced since Friday afternoon that grief knows no boundaries.

“The tragic event and the effects of the Creeslough catastrophe, which is beyond comprehension, knows no bounds.

“The intensity and the awfulness of the tragedy has reverberated near and far. Away beyond the shores of this beautiful country of ours.

“The outpouring of support and messages of condolence and offers of help that we have heard and witnessed, all has been overwhelming.

“Parochial, county, country boundaries, have been crossed. Hands of support and friendship have been offered.

“In crossing such boundaries we have seen how, from the shadow and out of the depths of the darkness of this terrible tragedy, a most beautiful and radiant and divine light of friendship, love and support has shone and continues to shine brightly.”

Authorities in Ireland continue to investigate the cause of the explosion in a building complex which included a service station, shop and apartments.

It is being treated as a “tragic accident”.

A gas leak is believed to be one theory.

Two of the 10 victims – Jessica Gallagher and Martin McGill – were laid to rest after funeral Masses in Creeslough on Tuesday.

The victims were aged from five to 59.

The other 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; 14-year-old Leona Harper; 59-year-old Hugh Kelly; and 49-year-old Martina Martin.

Ms Harper’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church in Ramelton, Co Donegal, on Thursday.

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

Mr Kelly will be laid to rest at St Michael’s on Friday morning.

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