Hundreds say goodbye to three more Donegal explosion victims

Mourners gathered at Donegal parishes on Wednesday to say a painful goodbye to three more victims of Friday’s gas station explosion

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On Wednesday, communities of Creeslough and Derrybeg lined the roadside and bowed their heads in respect to honour the final journeys of James O’Flaherty, Catherine O’Donnell and James Monaghan.

Hundreds came to remember Mr O’Flaherty, 48, Ms O’Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James.

Two funerals held in villages some 20 miles apart, but people now forever part of a tragedy that will be remembered for generations to come.

The family and friends of Mr O’Flaherty, Ms O’Donnell and James were joined by work colleagues, school friends and members of their local communities, united in their grief as they sent their loved ones to their final resting place.

James O'Flaherty, 48, one of the ten victims of the explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal on Friday.
James O'Flaherty, 48, one of the ten victims of the explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal on Friday.

On Wednesday morning, in the Gaeltacht region of Derrybeg, locals gathered in silence outside St Mary’s Church for the funeral of Mr O’Flaherty.

A guard of honour was provided by the school which his 12-year-old son, Hamish, attends.

Inside the chapel, Mr O’Flaherty’s service was delivered as Gaeilge (in Irish) and in English by parish priest Brian O Fearraigh.

The funeral service heard that Mr O’Flaherty lived with his wife, “the love of his life”, and their “brave, talented and kind” son at the edge of the village of Dunfanaghy.

His son, Hamish, made a short but poignant speech, where he told mourners: “We should be grateful. For your families, cherish them, be grateful for they won’t be there forever.”

Catherine O'Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan, two of the ten victims of the explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal on Friday.
Catherine O'Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan, two of the ten victims of the explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal on Friday.

A short time later, in the village of Creeslough, just a few hundred yards from the scene of the tragedy, the heartbroken family of Ms O’Donnell and James gathered for their joint funeral.

Parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy said “It is no wonder under such circumstances, that words fail us this afternoon.”

Items to do with wrestling, that “James loved so much”, were brought to the front alongside a watch and necklace to represent “the style that was so important to Catherine”. Fr Duffy said he was full of “devilment, life and joy”.

“She was a loving mother, a loving partner, a loving daughter and one who was much, much loved.”