Crowds turn out in memory of Buncrana pier victims

Church filled for Mass recalling five family members who died when car slid into water

Ruth Daniels (59), her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14), her grandsons Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (8) and their father Sean McGrotty (49) drowned when the family’s jeep slid on algae on the slipway at Buncrana pier and plunged into the water.

Ruth Daniels (59), her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14), her grandsons Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (8) and their father Sean McGrotty (49) drowned when the family’s jeep slid on algae on the slipway at Buncrana pier and plunged into the water.

 

Hundreds of people have attended an anniversary Mass in Derry in memory of five members of the same family who drowned near Buncrana pier exactly a year ago.

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 on the slipway and slid into Lough Swilly.

Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty was 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.