Donegal explosion: Names of 10 people killed in Creeslough released by gardaí

Girl (5) and father reportedly buying cake for mother among victims of petrol station blast as one man in critical condition in Dublin hospital

The ten people killed in an explosion at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal on Friday have been named by gardaí.  James O Flaherty (48), Jessica Gallagher (24), Martin McGill (49), Catherine O Donnell (39) and her son James Monaghan (13). Hugh Kelly (59), Martina Martin (49), Robert Garwe (50) and his daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe (5) and Leona Harper (14) all died in the blast.

One man in his 20s remains in a critical condition in St James’s Hospital, Dublin, while the seven other surviving casualties continue to receive treatment in Letterkenny University Hospital and remain in stable condition.

According to reports, five-year-old Shauna had gone into the shop with her father to buy a birthday cake for her mother while 14-year-old Leona was believed to be buying an ice-cream at the time of the blast.

Donegal explosion: ‘The strength of our community will carry us,’ service to remember Creeslough victims hears

Shock, horror and despair – the community leaving Mass on Saturday night in Creeslough.

Jessica had graduated with an Honours degree in Fashion Design and Marketing from The International Fashion Academy in Paris and had studied in a Fashion Design College in Shanghai. She recently took up a position as a Fashion Designer in Belfast.

Before moving to Belfast, she lived at home with her parents and was visiting her boyfriend’s apartment when the explosion occurred.

A secondary school in the nearby town of Milford said two of its students and the mothers of two further students were killed in the blast.

The principal of the secondary school Fiona Temple said the school, staff and pupils had been left devastated by the tragedy.

Creeslough service station before and after the explosion

“We as a school community are devastated on hearing of the tragedy and the fatal outcome for our two beautiful students and our cherished parents. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and the Creeslough community at this time,” she said.

“We are numbed by this overwhelming sadness and will work together to support all members of our school community in the coming days, weeks and months ahead.

“Our priority, as a school management and staff, is the wellbeing and welfare of the students and their families at this tragic time. We extend our best wishes to all those who suffered injuries including some of our students.”

On Sunday morning, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin met those who were admitted to hospital, the medical team which was on duty on the day of the explosion, as well as members of the Letterkenny fire station.

Accompanying Mr Martin were the Minister for Agriculture and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue as well as the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

The Bishop of Raphoe told the congregation at Mass in the village on Sunday morning that the people of Creeslough were “living through a nightmare of shock and horror” while local parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy said the support of the broader community would be a “source of strength” in the dark days ahead.

Speaking at Mass this morning at St Michael’s Church, Bishop Alan McGuckian “at this time, you the people of Creeslough are living through a nightmare of shock and horror since the very heart of the community was deeply wounded on Friday afternoon.

Creeslough, Donegal map. Map: Paul Scott

“It’s an experience that we are living through together. But we recognise that the trauma is different for every single individual. We hold in our hearts most especially those for whom this is most acute.

“We think firstly of the ten who have lost their lives and gone to God, and then of those nearest to them who are most cruelly bereaved. And then we think of the injured, struggling to recover in body and spirit. We think of everyone, both from the community and the first responders in the public services who have carried the burden of being close to the tragedy as it has unfolded. And we remember everyone here in Creeslough, and indeed throughout Ireland and further, who feels helpless and shaken by what has happened.”

On Saturday night hundreds of people, including emergency workers who had taken part in the search, packed the Co Donegal church which was full with many standing at the back and outside for the service which began at 10pm. It was held to support the community.

Also in attendance was Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tanáiste Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald.

He praised the “heartfelt sympathy” and support that has been offered and said he has “no doubt” that the strength of the people will help the community through this.

“So many people came out to pray here last night … it was a very nice moment,” he said “The very youngest to the very oldest in our community and people coming from other communities to join us.”

Letterkenny Rugby Club said in a post on Facebook: “We are heartbroken to say our worst fears have been confirmed. Leona Harper tragically lost her life yesterday in Creeslough.

“Leona was a talented rugby player and an important part of our U14 girls team. To Leona’s parents, Hugh and Donna, her brothers Anthony and Jamie, and all of her team-mates, we offer you our deepest condolences and support. There are no words that feel strong enough at a moment of deep sorrow such as this.”

The Garda Technical Bureau, with assistance from other agencies, will continue to examine the scene, which remains cordoned off.

He said: “They are all local people. They are all very much involved in the community. They were all people who were shopping in their local shop.

“We have very, very young children. The schools are going to be impacted, the GAA clubs are going to be impacted, the local church, in general the community is going to be severely impacted by this incident. But it is a very strong community as was seen here on Friday afternoon with the response of families, friends and neighbours who came to people’s rescue. So I am sure the community will come together and will support each other.”

An Post has invited the public to donate to a support fund at its 902 offices nationwide to help those impacted by the explosion saying money raised would be channelled through the Irish Red Cross to provide help to those bereaved, injured or made homeless by the blast.

“An Post and the Irish Red Cross will work with State service providers and local groups to ensure that supports are available to all those who need them in the weeks and months ahead.”

In a statement released on Saturday President Michael D Higgins said his thoughts and prayers were with those who have lost their lives, and their families. He said the tragedy was a “terrible blow” to a community that is closely knit and where every loss and injury “will be felt by every member of the community and far beyond” and he paid special tribute to members of the local community and emergency services across the island, who he said reacted swiftly to the scene of the explosion worked through the night search for survivors.

Investigations are continuing into what triggered the explosion, but gardaí believe it was an accident.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast

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