January 31, 2023

Source: bbc.com

The first funerals of the victims of an explosion at a service station in Creeslough will be held later.

The funeral Mass for Jessica Gallagher, 24, will take place at St Michael’s Church in the County Donegal village on Tuesday morning.

The service for Martin McGill, 49, will take place in the same church in the afternoon.

Ten people were killed in Friday’s explosion, which police say appears to have been a tragic accident.

An Garda Síochána (Irish police) continues to investigate the cause of the blast in a building complex that included the service station and convenience store and residential apartments.

Ms Gallagher was a fashion graduate who had studied in Paris and Shanghai, and had been due to start her career as a designer in Belfast on Monday.

She had been visiting her boyfriend in his apartment above the petrol station when the explosion happened.

Her aunt Dolores Gallagher said she was a “beautiful young woman” and she “lit up every room”.

“She’s a huge loss to the community and to her family and a credit to us all,” Ms Gallagher told BBC Radio Foyle.

She added the community had supported the family and she “can’t speak highly enough of everything that they’ve done”.

Mr McGill, who was originally from Scotland, was described as a devoted son who cared for his elderly mother.

He regularly visited the village pharmacy to collect medication for her.

He moved to Creeslough to look after both his parents but his father had since died.

The club’s players will also wear black armbands during the match.

The other eight victims were 50-year-old Robert Garwe and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe; 14-year-old Leona Harper; 48-year-old James O’Flaherty; 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 held on Wednesday morning.

On Monday, nurses from Letterkenny Hospital lined the road as the remains of Mr O’Flaherty, who was originally from Sydney in Australia, were taken from a chapel in the town.

His wife Tracey is a nurse in the hospital and her colleagues lined the road outside the chapel as the hearse drove past.

A service will be held for Ms O’Donnell and her son James on Wednesday afternoon.

Leona Harper and Martina Martin will be buried on Thursday.

Irish President Michael D Higgins is expected to attend eight of the funerals, missing those being held on Tuesday due to a prior engagement in France, Irish national broadcaster RTÉ has reported.

He will be represented at Ms Gallagher’s and Mr McGill’s funeral by his aide-de-camp. President Higgins is expected to meet relatives of all the victims, as well as members of the emergency services while in County Donegal.

Eight people who were injured in the explosion remain in hospital.

A man in his 20s is critically ill in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Candlelit vigils have been held, and messages of sympathy have poured in from across Ireland and around the world.

Books of condolence have been opened across Ireland and in the Guildhall in Londonderry, Belfast City Hall and at Stormont.

On Monday, the King extended his condolences to the people of Ireland following the “appallingly tragic” explosion.

In a message to President Higgins, the King said his and the Queen Consort’s sympathies were with those who had lost loved ones.

“My wife and I were filled with immense sadness when we heard of that appallingly tragic explosion at Creeslough, County Donegal,” he said.

“We remember with the greatest fondness meeting people from across Donegal when we visited in 2016 and the strong sense of community that exists there.”

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, visited Creeslough on Monday.

He said he was “stunned by the tragic and horrific” explosion.

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