Buncrana tragedy: Vigil held to honour victims
More than 1,000 people gather for ceremony at the scene of the drowning in Co Donegal
Louise James attends a ceremony at Buncrana front shore on Sunday night with Francis Crawford and baby Rioghnoch who survived incident in which five of her relatives died after their vehicle went into Lough Swilly. Photograph: Trevor McBride.
People travelled from near and far to unite in prayer for the five members of the same family who perished when their car slipped into the waters of Lough Swilly.
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 tragedy.
Sean McGrotty, who was in his late 40s, his two sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), and the boys’ grandmother Ruth Daniels (59) died alongside Mrs Daniels’ daughter Jodi-Lee (14).
Minutes before the vigil, Louise and her family, including her four-month-old baby daughter Rionaghac-Ann walked to the spot where the events had unfolded on Buncrana pier.
They dropped five baskets of flowers into the sea in memory of the five loved ones they lost.
The family then made their way just a few hundred yards to where the community had gathered on the shorefront at 7pm – almost to the minute when last Sunday’s tragedy began.
The vigil was conducted by local parish priest Fr Francis Bradley.
Louise James was accompanied by members of her family including her four brothers. Fighting backs tears, she addressed those gathered.
“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 broke into a round of applause as many wiped tears from their cheeks.
A lone piper, 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 the five victims, for Louise and her family, for those who had helped on the night including Davitt Walsh and Francis Crawford, who raised the alarm, and 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 to thank God for saving Rionaghac-Ann, who was rescued by Mr Walsh.
“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.”