A crowd of more than one thousand people returned to the scene of last Sunday’s horrific drowning in Buncrana tonight to honour the dead and those who tried desperately to save them.
People traveled from near and far to unite in prayer for the five members of the same family who perished when their jeep slipped into the icy waters of Lough Swilly just after 7pm.
People gathered on the shorefront of the Inishowen town from as early as 6pm in solidarity with Louise James who lost her partner, two sons, sister and mother in the unspeakable tragedy.
Minutes before the vigil started, Louise and her family including her four month old baby daughter Rionaghac-Ann walked back the spot where the horrific events unfolded on Buncrana pier.
Those who gathered allowed Louise and her family time to walk down to the end of the pier where the dropped five baskets of flowers into the sea in memory of the five loved ones they lost.
As the baskets were dropped into the sea, the currents poignantly took them back to the slipway from where Sean McGrotty’s jeep slipped into the sea.
The family then made their way just a few hundred yards to where the community had gathered on the shorefront at 7pm.
The vigil was conducted by local Parish Priest Fr Francis Bradley while also present was local man Francis Crawford who witnessed the accident and alerted the emergency services.
Louise was accompanied by members of her family including her brothers.
Fighting backs tears she addressed those who had gathered on a chilly March evening with the edge of the pier on which her family members perished just visible around the headland.
She simply said “There’s no words can describe how I’m feeling at the moment. I just want to say a big massive thank you to everybody for your words of support, kindness, generosity, everything. Thank you so much.”
The crowd then erupted into a spontaneous round of applause as many wiped tears from the cheeks.
A lone pipe, Cathal Gallagher from St Naul’s Pipe Band played Amazing Grace while other songs were also played.
Earlier in the vigil Fr Bradley had offered up the Five Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary for Sean, Mark, Evan, Ruth, Jodi-Lee, for Louise and her family, for those who helped on the night including heroic Davit Walsh and Francis Crawford and finally for the emergency services.
In his reflection Fr Bradley said those who gathered on the shoreline were there to support Louise and her family and also to thank God for saving Rionoghac Ann.
He said “Tonight another call for help goes out. And we know that this help will come. We gather in solidarity with Louise and Rionaghac-Ann. We thank God for what has been saved and we commend to him those who have been lost. But we do so as an Easter people filled with faith and hope.”