Buncrana Pier victims lovingly remembered a year on from tragedy

NEWS

 March 21, 2017
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Hundreds of people last night gathered for the first-anniversary mass for those who perished in the Buncrana Pier tragedy.

Five members of the same family drowned when their jeep slipped into the icy waters of Lough Swilly on March 20th last year.

Ruth Daniels (59), her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14), her grandsons Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (8) and their father Sean McGrotty (49) died after their car skidded on algae.

An investigation into the incident is still underway.

The Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty, Derry was last night filled to capacity for the Mass, which was concelebrated by Fr Noel Brown, Fr Joe Gormley and Fr John Walsh.

Among those in attendance were members of the McGrotty and Daniels families, including Louise James – who lost her mother, partner, sister and sons in the tragedy – and her brother Josh Daniels, a midfielder with Derry City FC.

Prayers were also offered for the Derry City captain, Ryan McBride, who died suddenly on Sunday.
Darkness descends

Also present was Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown and staff and pupils of Evan, Mark and Jodie Lee’s schools – St Eithne’s Primary School, St Joseph’s Boys’ School and St Mary’s College in Derry

Fr Brown told those present that learning of the news of the tragedy a year ago “caused darkness to descend”.

“Tragic death, which is almost always sudden, is like a blackout . . . Nothing can prepare us for something like this, or save us from its devastating effects,” he said.

Fr Brown acknowledged the grief and sorrow felt not just by the immediate family, “but by the people of Derry and Donegal, the entire island of Ireland, and beyond”.

He said that within that darkness much light had come from the “precious gift” of the life of Rionaghac-Ann McGrotty.

The only survivor, the four-month-old was rescued by former League of Ireland footballer Davitt Walsh.

He swam out to the sinking car, where Rionaghac-Ann’s father Sean passed his daughter to him through the window.


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