“A gem of her family” – the priest’s words of comfort as Jessica Gallagher is the first Creeslough victim to be buried

The funeral of the first of the ten victims of the Creeslough tragedy was held today in the village of Donegal.

Opening the service for Jessica Gallagher, Father John Joe Duffy expressed “sincere and heartfelt condolences” to her family and in his homily described the 24-year-old fashion designer as “a jewel in her family”.

“We would love to be able to put our hands in your hearts and take away this heartache and pain that you are going through this morning,” he said.

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“But it wouldn’t be sensible to think about it. Because in this emptiness, in this sadness, you carry Jessica in your heart.

“Although we cannot take away this pain from you, we want to go with you.

“We can’t feel your pain, but we will walk with you in that pain. Even just saying that we feel pain isn’t right or fair to you, but we walk in that pain.

“The more someone is loved, the greater that pain – and that pain is so immense. Jessica will always be in your heart, but she will also be with you, she will stay with you.”

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Jessica Gallagher (24) was buried this morning

Hundreds of mourners from the village of Creeslough and around Donegal traveled to St Michael’s Church, many of whom stood outside during the service.

They lined the streets as Mrs Gallagher’s wicker coffin was carried into the church, followed by her family.

President Michael D. Higgins was represented at the funeral by his aide. Local TD Joe McHugh and Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill were among those in attendance.

Icons depicting the life of Mrs Gallagher were brought outside the church.

In his homily, Father John Joe Duffy said Ms Gallagher “radiated a warm and positive sentiment” to those who knew her well.

The priest said she left waves of “love, affection, kindness and warmth” everywhere she went.

“We are experiencing, you, the family, the most difficult challenge of all – the pain and hardship of having to say goodbye to Jessica today,” he said.

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Mourners gather for Jessica Gallagher’s funeral. Photo: Steve Humphreys

“This pain and distress that other families are going through and I know other families have been with you who have lost a loved one and those who have a loved one in hospital at this time.

“That pain was felt in our community and in our neighboring communities as the path Jessica and others walked through life was so abruptly ended by this tragic accident.

“I wish I, as a priest, could explain this more fully as words could, but we don’t have words to explain it because words wouldn’t make sense or couldn’t make sense of it.

“I’m part of you, part of this community, and together we’re going to make the journey and take that journey into the future and support each other like so many people have done. Our entire community is hurting. Our hearts are heavy, but our spirits are strong.”

Ms Gallagher was visiting her boyfriend Conor at his flat above the Applegreen gas station when the explosion happened. He remains in critical condition in the hospital.

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Jessica Gallagher’s remains arrive at St. Michael’s Church. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Father Duffy looked back at who Mrs Gallagher was as a person and described her as someone who could “light up a room with that infectious smile”.

She has been described as a joker, an animal lover and very strong in every way.

“I believe animals sense the good in people, and they flocked to Jessica,” Father Duffy said.

He spoke about her outgoing personality, describing her as having “great confidence” in every facet of her life.

“She could speak for Ireland and people who knew her best said she didn’t have a switch.”

Ready to do anything for her loved ones just as they would have done for her, Father Duffy joked that her boyfriend Conor made a great sacrifice for her.

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Local TD Joe McHugh arrives at St Michael’s Church, Creeslough, for Jessica Gallagher’s funeral service. PA

“A friend that Conor would do anything for, even eat gluten-free for.”

Ms. Gallagher has loved to travel since studying fashion in Paris, whereupon she was offered the opportunity to continue her education in Shanghai and thrive in her fashion career.

An unfinished top that Ms Gallagher designed has been cited as symbolic of her love for her career.

“She knew the success she had already built through hard work and determination.”

There was no eulogy, and a cousin of Mrs Gallagher sang at the end of the funeral mass The Rise. Her coffin was carried out of the church and taken to Doe Cemetery for burial.

Ms Gallagher, who was due to start a new job on Monday, was one of 10 people aged five to 59 killed in the tragedy in the village of Creeslough last Friday.

The funeral of Martin McGill, 49, who is originally from Scotland, is also taking place today at St Michael’s Church.

An Garda Síochána continues to investigate the cause of the explosion in a building complex that included the gas station, grocery store and apartments.

It is being treated as a “tragic accident”. A gas leak is a theory, it is believed.

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Michelle O’Neill, Vice President of Sinn Féin, arrives for Jessica Gallagher’s funeral service at St Michael’s Church in Creeslough. Photo: PA

The other eight victims were 50-year-old Robert Garwe and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who were at the store to buy a birthday cake; 48-year-old James O’Flaherty; 14-year-old Leona Harper; 39-year-old Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan; 59-year-old Hugh Kelly; and 49-year-old Martina Martin.

Mr O’Flaherty’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church in Derrybeg on Wednesday morning.

A joint service for Mrs O’Donnell and her son James will be held at St Michael’s in Creeslough tomorrow afternoon.

A funeral for Ms Harper is to be held at St Mary’s Church in Ramelton on Thursday.

Ms Martin, a mother of four, will also be buried with a service at St Michael’s Church in Creeslough on Thursday.

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https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/a-jewel-of-her-family-priests-words-of-comfort-as-jessica-gallagher-is-first-of-creeslough-victims-to-be-laid-to-rest-42057341.html “A gem of her family” – the priest’s words of comfort as Jessica Gallagher is the first Creeslough victim to be buried

Fry Electronics Team

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