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Donegal pier tragedy mum's heartache and the little life she is clinging to - over a thousand in attendance at funeral but Louise looked loneliest woman on earth

By Ivan Little

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

In the end it was all too much for Louise McGrotty, but it was only as the forlorn mother carried her youngest son's tiny white coffin out of a church in Derry yesterday that her strength, dignity and composure that had inspired a city gave way to tears.

Somehow she'd found the resilience to read a poem at the Requiem Mass about the freak accident which claimed the lives of her partner Sean McGrotty, her two sons Mark and Evan, her mother Ruth Daniels and her sister Jodi-Lee.

Louise had also found the words to thank courageous Donegal hero Davitt Walsh for saving the life of her little daughter Rioghnach-Ann whom he'd rescued from the waters off Buncrana pier on Sunday evening as he dived into Lough Swilly without a thought for his own safety after the family car slipped off the algae-covered pier.

Somehow Louise had also managed to help organise the funeral for three generations of her family who perished as they watched the sun setting over the lough - which locals call the Lake of Shadows - just minutes after talking to her on the phone as she attended a hen party in England.

Earlier as the five coffins emerged from her home at St Eithne's Park, Louise was surrounded by friends and well-wishers including the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and his Sinn Fein colleague Raymond McCartney.

But there were times on the solemn journey to Requiem Mass for her family a mile away at the Holy Family church that Louise looked like the loneliest woman in the world.

She cut a bereft figure as she gently placed Evan's small white coffin into the first of the five hearses which had his name spelled out in a floral tribute.

Evan and Mark were both dressed in the red and white of their favourite football teams, Derry City and Manchester United.

Their father Sean was wearing a Celtic top.

Two PSNI motorcycle outriders travelled in front of the five hearses which wound their way slowly and carefully down the hill towards the church as hundreds of people lined the roads, their eyes drawn to Louise who walked in the front row of the mourners in the sorrowful cortege which passed St Eithne's Primary School where Evan's friends had tied brightly coloured balloons to the railings alongside their parents' bouquets of flowers.

The respectful and stunned silence around Ballymagroarty was broken only by the toll of a bell in the distance from the Holy Family Church where more than a thousand people who were unable to get a seat stood outside.

Children from the schools attended by the three youngest victims of the Buncrana nightmare formed guards of honour for their friends.

Many of them - and older people nearby - wept unashamedly as the five hearses inched their way into the church grounds.

Footballing colleagues of Derry City player Joshua Daniels, whose mother and sister died at Buncrana, were also lined up at the entrance to the church, all of them wearing their Derry City tracksuits.

The five hearses drew up alongside one another in the Holy Family car park and a woman read out the names of the people who were to carry the coffins from the funeral vehicles.

It all made for a heartbreaking tableau as the five coffins were borne into the church where the Parish Priest Fr Patrick O'Kane said: "We are plunged in grief, even the heavens are crying."

Not since the joint funerals of five of the eight victims of the Halloween massacre at nearby Greysteel in 1993 had there been anything quite like it in Co Derry. Twenty-three years ago the terrorist killings at the Rising Sun bar triggered fury at the perpetrators but yesterday there was no one to blame for Buncrana, adding to a feeling of numbed shock which united Derry like few tragedies of the past.

Indeed time has moved on so much in the city that Sean McGrotty's brother Jim was able to include a light-hearted throw-back to the dark days of the Troubles in his tribute to his sibling. At one point he said that Sean had taken over the management of his father's pigeon lofts, adding: "It was at this stage that I was called upon to negotiate a peace deal as Senator George Mitchell wasn't available."

The Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown praised the people of the city for the way they had responded to the McGrotty and Daniels families' plight.

"The community has tapped into a great wellspring of goodness that has helped to counteract the awful toxin of sudden death," he said.

He added that love and life were stronger than death and the bitterest tragedy.

He went on: "These have been sombre days, not only in this city but right across this island.

"The banks of daffodils seemed to wave naively in the face of the horror that happened in a few minutes on an apparently harmless pier at Buncrana. And the news of the awful events in Brussels underlined just how fragile life can be."

Part of the poem which Louise read to the mourners included the lines:

They went to watch the sunset together on Buncrana Pier

Unbeknown to them all an angel would be near.

Taken together as a family,

Joined as one at Heaven's door;

A community left in mourning,

Lives shattered evermore.

Their faces will forever map the sea

Remembered by each and everyone

Down by the Lake of Shadows

When you look beyond the sun.

Belfast Telegraph

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