Eight funerals have been held in the Inishowen peninsula of Donegal following the largest car crash in Ireland’s history.
The funerals are being held in the small town’s of Buncrana and Clonmany as the rural community comes to terms with the deaths of eight people.
The tragic crash took place when a Volkswagen Passat, packed with seven passengers clipped a Renault Megane and then continued into a head-on collision with Hugh Friel’s Toyota Corolla. The seven passengers in the Volkswagen and Hugh Friel, in the Toyota, died at the scene.
Sean Kelly, the driver of the Toyota continues to fight for his life in Letterkenny Hospital.
On Wednesday Hugh Friel’s funeral was resided over by Fr Fintan Diggin. Friel a quiet, single, 66-year-old man was on his way home from an evening playing bingo when his car was hit by Kelly’s Volkswagen.
Fr Diggin said Mr Friel “was low-maintenance. He was easily pleased. Working on his land gave him immense satisfaction.” He also said that the victim would not have wanted the circumstances surrounding his death to heap any more pain or suffering or grief on anybody.
Patrick “PJ” McLaughlin and Mark McLaughlin (both aged 21) were also buried yesterday. Thousands attended the funerals and tragically many of them attended more than one of the eight funerals the small community dealt with this tragedy.
At PJ’s funeral Fr Neil McGoldrick told the congregation that the 21-year-old had always dreamed of being famous. He said “He has become famous, with his face on the front page of probably every newspaper in the country -- but not for the right reason.”
Presiding over Mark’s funeral earlier yesterday Mr McGoldrick compared the grief felt in this small community as a tsunami. He said “Surely no words can adequately describe that harsh reality that has left Mark's family and so many other people feeling stunned and helpless.
"Eight deaths, seven young people, all gone. In an instant. How can this be?"
Today the rural community dealt with another three funerals.
First was Paul Doherty’s. He was buried on his 20th birthday. At the funeral Fr Diggin said of Doherty “All the energy and joie de vivre were very much part of his life.”
His parents Felix and Sally passed along a message thanking the community for their support. It also said “They would like to thank Paul for the last 20 years. He has entertained them profusely during that time with all his tricks.”
Eamonn McDaid’s (22) funeral took place at St Mary’s in Buncrana. The parish priest warned the youths in the congregation that they are not indestructible. He said “You are very fragile. All of us are. Life itself is fragile.”
Damien McLaughlin, 21, from Umricam, Buncrana will also be buried today while the last victim of the accident James McElaney (23) will be buried tomorrow morning.