A digger driver who tirelessly searched through debris following the tragic gas station explosion in Creeslough last October has spoken publicly for the first time.
Henry Gallagher, 47, from Treantagh, Donegal, didn't stop searching until he had recovered the last body from the debris following an explosion at the apartment block and Applegreen petrol station, in Creeslough, County Donegal, in Oct 2022. Ten people were killed in the tragedy.
He discussed his experience in the opening program of TG4's new current affairs series "Iniúchadh TG4", which is set to air on Wednesday, February 8.
Gallagher told the program that the sight of grieving relatives in his rearview mirrors spurred him on as he dug through the rubble.
"You just see a river of high-vis vests (behind me) and I know that among that, there are families waiting on news. The only way that they are going to get the news of a loved one being taken out, is for me to get in. I wanted them out. I would have stayed in that digger for ages after that just until I got the bodies out," Gallagher told the program.
Gallagher revealed that he volunteered to take part in the recovery operation after a plea for help from the local fire brigade.
He spent 24 hours in the cab of his excavator removing debris and rubble until the last of 10 bodies were recovered - that of 14-year-old Leona Harper.
"I done what any other person would have done, Gallagher told the program. "The ordinary people were amazing. I mean I’ve heard stories of people running into the building, people bringing other people out of the building. They were taking people out and they were crying (and) they were screaming."
"Iniúchadh TG4 - An Craoslach" examines how locals from the small Donegal town came together following the tragic explosion at an Applegreen Service Station on October 7 last year which left 10 people dead.
Gardaí are still investigating the cause of the blast, but a gas explosion remains a major line of inquiry.
The program is the first part of a new six-part monthly current affairs and investigative documentary series looking behind the headlines of some of the major Irish news stories.
The series is presented by award-winning Belfast-based investigative journalist Kevin Magee.
"At the time of the tragic event in Creeslough, we heard about the extraordinary bravery and courage of the first wave of rescuers, local people who ran to help their trapped neighbors before the emergency services got there," Magee said in a statement ahead of the release of next week's program.
"This program gives the ordinary people who helped a voice and hears in their own words the extraordinary things they did, often at great danger to themselves in the face of appalling adversity."
"Iniúchadh TG4 - An Craoslach" airs at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8 and will also be available to view worldwide on the TG4 Player.