Today marks the one year anniversary of the Buncrana pier tragedy, one of the most horrific events to occur in Donegal in recent times.
On March 20th, 2016, five people lost their lives on a fateful night on Buncrana pier. Baby Rioghnach was the only survivor. Memorial events have been planned for the anniversary while rescue workers from Lough Swilly RNLI have looked back on the tragic events.
Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty (49) their sons Evan (8) and Mark (12), her mother Ruth Daniels (57) and her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14) when their car slid on algae on Buncrana pier.
Speaking on the anniversary of the tragedy, Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter said, “It was a night we shall never forget and we carry the memory of those who were lost and keep them and their loved ones in our thoughts at this time.
“We have been privileged to meet with members of the family since the sad events of that evening and in their grief have seen them embraced by the community of Buncrana who came together to offer help and shared their loss.
“Our lifeboat volunteers arrived at a difficult scene that night and worked to bring everyone home. We once again extend our sympathies to the families and hope that they have received comfort from the continued support and goodwill of the community.”
Seconds before the car sank into the water, Mr McGrotty handed the couple’s baby Rioghnach through the window to hero Davitt Walsh who swam to their aid.
The family of the victims will host a mass and a memorial walk to mark the first anniversary of the event.
The mass will be offered in The Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty on Monday, March 20 at 7.15pm. A memorial walk in memory of all five members of the family will take place on Friday March 24 in Derry.
Anyone who is taking part in the walk is asked to pay a registration fee of £2.50 (€2.86) and all proceeds will go to the Evan McGrotty Research Fund for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
A statement released by Fr Michael Canny on behalf of the family, said: “Louise, The Daniels and The McGrotty family are deeply grateful for the prayers and support over the last year. As the Anniversary of the terrible tragedy approaches they would welcome space for privacy at this time.”
Local priest Fr Joe Gormley also spoke of the difficult grief face by the family at this particular time.
“Grief is for all of us, public for a while, we go back into our privacy. But on a tragedy of this scale it is always going to be the public nature of it.
“It’s that whole difficulty of trying to grieve with that sort of public spotlight, which inevitably comes in a situation like this. But it is very difficult,” Fr Gormley said.