Hundreds sign Dublin book of condolence for rail victims

Sympathisers express shock and sadness over tragedy in Spain

A member of the public signs a book of condolonces today outside St Andrew’s Parish Church in Westland Row, Dublin, for the victims of the Spanish train crash. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

A member of the public signs a book of condolonces today outside St Andrew’s Parish Church in Westland Row, Dublin, for the victims of the Spanish train crash. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 16:40

Hundreds of people have signed a book of condolences in Dublin in solidarity with the victims of the Santiago de Compostela rail disaster in Spain.

By noon today about 400 people had signed the book in St Andrew’s Church, Merrion Row. Among the Irish signatures were ones from Norway, Israel, Italy, and Spain.

At least 80 people died after an eight-carriage train came off the tracks, hit a wall and caught fire just outside the pilgrimage destination Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain on Wednesday night.

Claire Divilly, from Kimmage in Dublin, who recently returned from the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, said she felt she had a connection with the city and was moved to come down because of “the tragedy of the whole thing”.

Fr Paddy Moran said St Andrew’s had a link with the city because its former site on Townsend Street was the departure point for lepers leaving Dublin to do the Camino.

Fr Moran said the focus of the book was to help Spanish people in Ireland—workers, students, tourists—find a way of expressing their loss.

“If on the eve of St Patrick’s Day something so catastrophic happened in Ireland, the Irish across the world would feel such huge pain. The Spanish in Ireland are experiencing this huge loss,” he said.

He added that the book was an informal gesture of solidarity in the wake of the disaster. “Unfortunately the way life is, if we don’t make this gesture before the weekend we may find it has gone off the headlines by next week,” he said.

Paul Cotter, from Cork, stepped under the church’s portico out of the rain. He signed the book, remarking on the terrible loss of life. “What makes it worse was we all saw the crash on television last night,” he said.

Terry O’Regan from Killiney, Co Dublin, stopped by briefly to add her name. She said she was “shocked” by the accident. “It’s dreadful, dreadful for those poor people and their families,” she added, before continuing on her way.

The book of condolences will remain open until 6pm this evening and from 10am to 7pm tomorrow.