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Donegal drowning tragedy funeral homily: Speaking notes of Father Patrick O'Kane

Published 25/03/2016

The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST   24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is eye witness Francis Crawford. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Pictured is Martin McGuinness. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Louise James (front -left) one of five Coffins during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 24/03/2016 Francis Crawford ( who raised the alarm) during The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Alan Lewis- PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 24-3-2016 Today's funerals in Londonderry of the family of five who drowned at Buncrana pier tragedy at the weekend in Donegal.
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
LOUISE JAMES (BLACK COAT) CARRIES ONE OF HER YOUNG SONS - Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co-Donegal pier accident. 24-3-16 The funeral for five members of the McGrotty/Daniels family taking place at Holy Family Church in Derry city on Thursday. Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan, sister Jodie-Lee Daniels and mother Ruth Daniels. The jeep the victims were in slipped off the pier at Buncrana in Co-Donegal on Sunday night. A four month old baby girl was rescued from the vehicle. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line 24-3-16 see story
The final hearse arrives at the Holy Family chapel, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Hearses arrive at the Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners arrive at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry for the funeral of the five people killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Coffins are place into hearses at the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners outside the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (right) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 24, 2016. Sean McGrotty and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight, died along with his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, 57, and her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels after their SUV sank after sliding off the pier slipway in Buncrana, Co Donegal. See PA story FUNERAL Pier. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Louise James (front left) who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother carries a coffin out of the Holy Family church, Ballymagroarty in Londonderry after the funeral of the five people who were killed when their car slid off a slipway in Co Donegal. PA
Funeral of Derry family who drowned in Buncrana Co Donegal pier accident. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of the five Buncrana pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight.  The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal last Sunday night. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funeral of five pier victims takes place at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Thursday. The victims were Ruth Daniels, her 14-year-old daughter Jodie Lee Daniels, her son-in-law Sean McGrotty, and his sons Mark, 12, and Evan, eight. The only survivor was Mr McGrotty's four-month old daughter, Rionaghac-Ann. They died after their car slid off a pier in Buncrana County Donegal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, third from left and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise James, in black, places her son Evan in a hearse. The funerals of Sean McGrotty, 46, his two young sons Mark 12, and Evan James, 8, Ruth Daniels, 57, the mother of Mr McGrottys partner Louise, who was in England at the time and Ms Daniels teenage daughter Jodie-Lee,15, who died when their car slipped into the water from a slipway in Buncrana at the weekend. The only survivor of the tragedy was Mr. McGrottys baby Rioghnach James. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 24.03.17
Louise McGrotty and brother Josh carry remains of their sister Jodi-Lee into their Hazelbank home
Louise McGrotty with baby Rioghnach-Ann, who survived the tragedy, and son Evan (8), who lost his life
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodie Lee Daniels
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Proud granny Ruth Daniels gives Mark and Evan McGrotty a hug
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Sean McGrotty (49) with son Mark (12)
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Ruth Daniels (59) with daughter Jodi-Lee (14)
Sean McGrotty and his two sons Evan and Mark died at the scene. His partner Louise wasn’t present at the time of the tragedy, but her baby Rioghnach-Ann, whom she is cradling here, was rescued
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
Jodi-Lee playing with nephew Evan
Remains of the five members of the same family who drowned at Buncrana pier are taken to the family home on Tuesday morning. Photo: Joe Boland / Press Eye
The family’s Q7 which slid into Lough Swilly
Buncrana pier tragedy: Former Ballymena United footballer Davitt Walsh heroically dived into the water and saved baby. Image: RTE News
Mark (12) and eight-year-old Evan.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Sean McGrotty
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Ruth Daniels
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels.
The scene at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie-Lee Daniels.
Martin McGuinness at the pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Garda Superintendent Colm Nevin speaks to the media. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
John McCarthy from the RNLI at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Flowers left at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Jodie Lee Daniels
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Garda at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Presseye
Francis Crawford Who raised the alarm, at the Scene at the Pier in Buncrana Co Donegal, after Five people, including children, have died after a car went off a pier. Picture Joe Bolan / Press Eye
Tributes left at the scene of the tragedy. Picture Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Emergency services on the pier at Buncrana after yesterday’s tragic accident
Rescue services at the pier in Buncrana where a family of five perished after their car slide into Loch Swilly
The pier in daylight
Algae on the slipway which would have made it difficult for the vehicle to get any traction
An Audi Q7 like the one in which the family got trapped

When the news broke on Sunday evening that a terrible accident had happened on Buncrana pier my prayers for the dead and bereaved included a prayer for the priest who would have to face the family and at the funeral try to make sense of this tragedy.

Little did I think I was praying for myself. Then at seven o' clock on Monday morning I got a call. "It's Louise here, Fr Paddy," she said. 'That was my husband, my children, my mother, my sister that died yesterday evening."

Stunned, I later made my way to her home where the grief was palpable.

Grown men stood, red-eyed, in silence. Words could not come to my lips to put any shape on what I felt inside.

A reverend silence felt more appropriate as I gripped her hand. As I kissed her cheek, I tasted the salt of her tears. "I am so, so sorry" was all I could muster, and I hoped it was enough.

There comes a time when you struggle with doubt and darkness, when you stand on the brink of emptiness and despair, of anguish, fear and loneliness, that you are tempted to ask: Is there a God? And if there is, where is He now? If you are a God of kindness and compassion, come out of your hiding place and show yourself. Tomorrow, Good Friday, we will hear Christ on the Cross scream out: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

We can make our own that lonely, painful prayer of desolation today.

We struggle today to find words to speak the unspeakable. We are bewildered by the intensity of this grief for I know Louise that - as I have already said- there is nothing I can say today to alleviate your pain and sense of loss.

This is a desert experience, barren of any comfort, as we search for an oasis of hope in this bleak landscape and as we struggle to find any refreshing words of life and healing.

When I visited the funeral home on Tuesday morning and saw the five coffins, their occupants so peaceful in that sleep we call death, I broke down in tears. I was bereft and deep sighs came from my heart. When finally prompted to pray by the undertaker, the words seemed to echo, so empty and hollow.

And yet there is one little sliver of light, one ray of hope bravely breaking through the dark clouds and it is that little Rioghnach-Ann has been saved.

As Louise says to me again and again: "She is my only reason to go on living."

I baptised her at this font on 23rd January in the company of her parents Louise and Sean, her godparents Joshua and Gemma and her extended family. The day before I paid them a visit at St Eithne's Park where they made me welcome and asked me to bless their beautiful little family home.

While I was there I was told that little Evan had muscular dystrophy and how Louise has so far raised £16,000 for that charity, including a tandem parachute jump from 14,000 feet.

Two weeks ago we were gathered as a family when he made his first confession - that same little Evan who, when his mother phoned him at five to seven on Sunday evening as they sat on the pier to watch the sunset, said: "Mammy I miss you so much. I am going to give you the biggest, tightest hug you ever got, when I see you again."

Today Jesus tells us not to be self-centred, but self-giving, not to be hard-hearted but life-giving for actions speak louder than words. It is not about "what's in it for me or us?" but about "what's in it for others?" We saw it in the self-sacrifice of Sean on Sunday evening as he desperately tried to save his family.

We saw that altruism again in the bravery of Davitt Walsh who saved the life of Rioghnach-Ann by swimming out to rescue her. Davitt, today we salute you as our hero.

We had a meeting in our parochial house on Tuesday when Louise and her family met you to thank you for all you did and also your girlfriend Stephanie Knox for her quick thinking as she warmed the baby's little blue body back to life.

Louise thanked you both sincerely from the bottom of her heart and for trying to save the lives of her sons. "Don't blame yourself that you did not do more - we are so grateful for what you did," she said. Davitt once played senior football and he looks a fit man, all of which stood to him in his ordeal. "It could easily have been seven deaths, not five," Louise added, before passing the baby to Davitt to hold. She opened her beautiful blue eyes, smiled up at him and had a big yawn.

Louise, your faith is strong as I hear you say how your sons Mark and Evan, partner Sean, mother Ruth and Jodi-Lee your only sister, are now reunited in Heaven with your little baby Joshua who lived for only 17 hours. You are just going to have to wait a little longer until you get that tight hug promised to you from Evan.

Belfast Telegraph

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