Belfast Telegraph

Buncrana pier tragedy mum Louise visits scene for vigil of remembrance

By Stephen Maguire

Louise James, who lost five family members to the Buncrana pier tragedy, yesterday made an emotional journey to the scene to honour the dead.

A crowd of more than 1,000  people travelled from near and far to unite in prayer for the family members who perished when their vehicle slipped into the icy waters of Lough Swilly.

People gathered on the shorefront of the Inishowen town in solidarity with Louise who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother in the unspeakable tragedy.

Minutes before the vigil started Louise and her family, including her four-month-old baby daughter Rioghnach-Ann, walked to the spot where the tragic events unfolded.

She dropped five baskets of flowers into the sea in memory of the five loved ones lost.

The family then made their way just a few hundred yards to where the community had gathered on the shorefront at 7pm — almost to the minute when last Sunday’s tragedy began.

Also present was local man Francis Crawford, who witnessed the accident and alerted the emergency services.

Fighting backs tears, Louise addressed those who had gathered on the chilly March evening.

“There’s no words can describe how I’m feeling at the moment,” she said. “I just want to say a big massive thank you to everybody for your words of support, kindness, generosity, everything. Thank you so much.”

The crowd then erupted into a round of applause as many wiped tears from the cheeks.

Lone piper Cathal Gallagher from St Naul’s Pipe Band played Amazing Grace.

Local parish priest Fr Francis Bradley said those who gathered were there to support Louise and her family and also to thank God for saving Rioghnach-Ann.

“Tonight another call for help goes out. And we know that this help will come. We gather in solidarity with Louise and Rioghnach-Ann,” he said.

“We thank God for what has been saved and we commend to him those who have been lost. But we do so as an Easter people filled with faith and hope.”

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