08 October 2022

Strength of Creeslough community hailed in service to remember blast victims

08 October 2022

There is no community as strong as that in Creeslough, a service to remember the 10 victims who died in an explosion in the village has heard.

Local priest Fr John Joe Duffy hailed a major rescue effort over the last two days as “unparalleled in measure” during the service at St Michael’s Church.

Hundreds of people, including emergency workers who had taken part in the search, packed the Co Donegal church on Saturday evening.

Also in attendance was Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill were also in the congregation.

The greatest strength of any community is its people. The individuals and families that together form a community

Parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy began the service by welcoming everyone to the church.

A red candle was then lit by the Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian for each of the 10 victims of the tragedy, which included two teenagers and a young child.

The candlelit tribute will remain for a week.

Fr Duffy thanked the emergency services who “gave so much of themselves in the tremendous efforts to save lives and recover the deceased”.

He also thanked emergency workers from Northern Ireland who had joined in the search operation.

He said: “The greatest strength of any community is its people. The individuals and families that together form a community.

“The closer we are as a people the stronger the sense of community, and nowhere is that sense stronger, in no place is there as strong a community as we have here in Creeslough. Especially at this time.”

He added: “Our hearts are indeed broken, we all sense a numbness, a disbelief that we are really experiencing this tragedy, that it is real.

“The grief we see in the young and in the old shows that this is a family that cares for each other, a genuine community.

“We suffer the loss, we all sense the pain.

“The days ahead will be difficult days. I wish there was some easier way, but unfortunately there is not.

“However, the strength of our community will carry us.”

He said the parish “owed so much” to those who had taken part in the emergency search operation.

The priest added: “The effort we saw in our community was unparalleled in measure and we are so very grateful.

“Let us now be there for each other, let us journey together in these sad times.”

Bishop McGuckian said: “The heart of this beautiful community of Creeslough, our community of Donegal and our national community, has been sorely bruised – broken, even – by the horror of this situation.”

Several politicians took time to meet with local residents outside the church following the service.

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