Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Priest recalls how Donegal crash news turned World Cup joy turned to horror

Damien McLaughlin, one of the eight men killed in the Buncrana car crash

An evening enjoying the World Cup final and the cheers of Spanish students ended with urgent phone calls and news of a horrific crash.

“For me, living in Buncrana, populated in July by 150 Spanish students, the first part of the evening resonated with cries of ‘ole, ole' and ‘bravo, bravo, bravo',” Fr John Walshe told the funeral Mass of Damien McLaughlin.

“The evening ended with extremely urgent phone calls from the fire service and the guards. Our presence was required in a horrific car crash in which, as they put it, there had been ‘a number of fatalities'.”

It was the second funeral at St Mary's Church yesterday.

And for the second time that day, the priest implored young people to remember that they were not indestructible.

More than a thousand mourners spilled out of the church and thronged the churchyard for the moving ceremony.

Leading them were the dead man's parents, Robert and Noeleen, brothers, Christopher, George and Kevin, sister, Kate and girlfriend, Colleen Doherty.

The priest described Damien (21), of Umricam, Buncrana, as an admirable man, who accomplished much in his 21 years.

Gifts brought to the altar included a hammer and measuring tape, symbolising his dedication and skills as a carpenter.

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