Belfast Telegraph

Donegal mourns crash victims Margaret McGonagle, Mairead Mundy and Rachel Battles

By Robin Schiller

A rural parish in Co Donegal has bid an emotional goodbye to three local women who died following an horrific road collision.

Two separate services were held at the Church of St Joseph and St Conal in the village of Bruckless as the funeral Mass of Margaret McGonagle (69) and her daughter Mairead Mundy (38) took place yesterday.

Later that afternoon the third road traffic victim from the quiet parish, Rachel Battles (37), was laid to rest following a service at the same church attended by hundreds of mourners.

Chief celebrant Fr James Sweeney, who presided over both funerals, paid tribute to the three women whose passing caused a sense of shock that has permeated right across the country.

Mrs McGonagle, mother to Roger, Geoffrey and Mairead, was described as a caring woman who dedicated her life to her family as well as to others.

"She was to the fore setting up the Donegal Rape Crisis in her early work and proceeded to work in different areas helping others with their trauma and difficulties," Fr Sweeney said.

An emotional letter read out at her funeral highlighted the effect of her work as a counsellor.

"Mags. I don't know where to start, how to express how grateful I am to you.

"I have battled with my mental health for many years and thought it was something I would just have to accept, to live with - that was until I met you.

"You have changed my life completely, saved me as a person," the poignant letter, read out by Fr Sweeney, said.

Her daughter Mairead was a "home bird" who was a talented Irish dancer, mourners were told.

She had danced in both Ulster and All-Ireland competitions.

Mairead married for the first time in 2002, but her husband Declan passed away in 2009.

"Several years later she was blessed to meet Pauric and they began a happy life together with Caoimhin," said Fr Sweeney.

The three women were returning from a holiday in Turkey, where they had celebrated Mairead and Pauric's first wedding anniversary.

"Having just celebrated their first wedding anniversary, it was tragically cut short by last week's accident. Mairead was much loved by many people, especially by (her son) Caoimhin, Pauric, her family and her friends," Fr Sweeney said. After the Mass, the two coffins were buried side by side in the adjacent graveyard.

At 2.30pm the funeral of Ms Battles, a friend of Margaret and Mairead, took place.

The service, again attended by hundreds of mourners, heard how the mum-of-four had recently renewed her wedding vows.

Mourners were told how Rachel's kind-hearted nature led her to become a carer for people in the community.

"From the first time you met Rachel, you knew you had a friend for life," Fr Sweeney said.

"Rachel and Martin's home was always a welcoming place - a hub of life - full of people."

Rachel was buried in the same graveyard as her friends.

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