Vigils are being held in Donegal to remember the victims of the Creeslough blast


hundreds of people gathered at a vigil to remember the 10 people who died in a devastating explosion in an Irish village.

A five-year-old girl and her father were among those killed in Friday’s blast in Creaslow, County Donegal, at a complex that includes residential flats and a petrol station.

The huge blast claimed the lives of 10 local residents, whose names were released by police on Sunday.

Ireland’s police force, An Garda Siochana, is continuing to investigate the cause, although it is being treated as a “tragic incident” at this stage.

The dead are 50-year-old Robert Garrow and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garrow, 48-year-old James O’Flaherty, 24-year-old Jessica Gallagher, 49-year-old Martin McGill, 39-year-old Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan , 59-year-old Hugh Kelly, 49-year-old Martina Martin and 14-year-old Leona Harper.

One of the first confirmed funerals will take place on Wednesday – for James O’Flaherty at St Mary’s Church in Derrybeg.

The service said a man in his 20s remains in a critical condition at St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

The seven other surviving victims continue to receive treatment at Letterkenny University Hospital and remain in a stable condition.

Almost 20 vigils were organized in Co Donegal on Sunday.

One of the first took place in the town of Milford, half an hour’s drive from the scene of the tragedy.

Parents hugged their children, people carried candles, prayers were said and music was played, including a song called Creeslough written and played by a local musician.

The vigil ended with the crowd singing the Irish language hymn A Mhuire Mhathair.

Parish priest Father Stephen Gorman read a statement sent on behalf of Pope Francis expressing his sadness at the loss of life and sending his condolences to the people of Ireland.

A statement sent by his representative to the Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian said: “His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the loss of life and destruction caused by the Creeslough explosion and he expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering after the consequences of this tragedy.

“As he entrusts the deceased to the merciful love of almighty God, His Holiness prays for divine blessings of comfort and healing on the injured, displaced and families dealing with the pain of loss.

“As a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord, the Holy Father sends his blessing to all the people of Ireland.”

Later there were similar scenes in the town of Castlefin.

Local clergyman Ciaran Hegarty led a moment of prayer before those gathered observed a two-minute silence.

Musician Marian Harper-Coleman played the song Cutting The Corn In Creeslough on the accordion.

Earlier on Sunday, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin met with those admitted to hospital, the medical team on duty on the day of the blast and members of the Letterkenny Fire Brigade.

Mr Martin was joined by Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture and Donegal TD Charlie McConnalogh.

The remains of the victims are at Letterkenny Hospital where autopsies will continue over the next few days.

Police said the results would not be released for operational reasons.

The Garda Technical Bureau, with the help of other agencies, will continue to survey the site, which remains cordoned off.

Police Chief Liam Geraghty told reporters that what happened would have a significant impact on the small rural community.

“They are all local people. They are all very involved in the community. They were all people who shopped at the local store,” he said.

“We have very, very young children. Schools will be affected, GAA clubs will be affected, the local church, the community as a whole will be severely affected by this incident.

“But this is a very strong community, as was seen here on Friday afternoon with the response of families, friends and neighbors who came to the rescue.

“So I’m sure the community will come together and support each other.”

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