10 October 2022

Creeslough community urged to speak out to help process tragedy

10 October 2022

People have been urged to talk about the Creeslough tragedy as the horror of the explosion that killed 10 people continues to sink in.

Crowds of people turned out in Letterkenny, a short distance away in Co Donegal, for a candlelit vigil on Monday evening.

Photographs of the 10 victims were placed in the middle of Market Square along with candles.

Gerry McMonagle, one of the directors of the Letterkenny Community Development Project (CDP), thanked attendees for turning out, and said it will be a solace to the bereaved families.

“This is our way of helping and assisting the families here tonight, and we want to thank you on behalf of the CDP for coming out here and remembering those families, and being there for them,” he said.

Prayers were said by two ministers.

Many in attendance held candles during a moment’s silence, and placed the candles beside the photographs afterwards.

In Gweedore, around 100 people attended a similar vigil next to a children’s park, 30 minutes west of Creeslough.

A priest led the vigil with prayers and told those who attended there would be difficult days and weeks ahead and urged everyone to pray for the victims and their families.

The crowd huddled together in the cold October evening and recited prayers in Gaeilge in the Irish-speaking parish. Many clutched candles with their heads bowed as they listened to a musician play songs in memory of those who died.

Pictures of the victims were placed in frames and dotted throughout a makeshift shrine.

Ten red candles and 10 red roses were placed in a semi-circle, one for each victim, and a picture of Creeslough was placed in the centre.

Dozens of people walked silently around the shrine and placed candles next to a bunch of white lilies.

Adults placed comforting arms around young teenagers and children as they struggled with the tragedy.

Pensioners sat on a bench with blankets wrapped around their legs as they spoke quietly about how the village would cope.

Local Garda members and firefighters also attended the vigil, standing side by side in a sign of the joint rescue effort at Friday’s incident.

Hundreds of people also turned out for a vigil in Londonderry led by mayor Sandra Duffy.

The Allegri and Rosemount Male Voice Choirs performed at the event, and journalist and presenter Frank Galligan shared a poem reflecting on the tragedy.​

After the gathering in Letterkenny Mr McMonagle said it is important to talk.

“I think this is what people need after such a tragedy to try and process it. This was an awful incident, I think the randomness of it, it could have happened to any one of us, and that brought it home to people,” he told the PA news agency.

“So I think it’s important that we come together and be there in solidarity and sympathies with the families affected, either those who died or those who were injured, so we as a community can show our support and can talk and discuss this.

“It’s very important at times like this to have an outlet, it’s very important to talk to our friends and family about what happened, such a tragic occurrence that had reverberations right across our local community.

“That’s very noticeable by the demographics of who was affected – we had senior citizens, we had school children, we had teenagers and young mothers and fathers.

“It affected the whole community and we can all relate to it, so I think that’s why it’s important we talk about that, and that we help and support one another to get through it.”

Mr McGonagle said the mood in Letterkenny has been very sombre.

“But there is a resilience there to help and assist those families. I think the whole community has come out, not just in Letterkenny but across Donegal, and I know that that will stand to the families in the weeks and the months ahead,” he said.

“In this crowd tonight, everyone will know someone who was affected by this. It is such a tight-knit community, when one hurts we all hurt. That’s why we’re all here tonight in solidarity and sympathy with those families.”

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