Time has stood still in Creeslough since Friday’s devastation, and the numbness hangs as heavy as the ash gray mist hanging over nearby Muckish Mountain.
On the streets of this pretty little Donegal village, frozen faces struggle for words to describe the toll these past few unimaginable and nightmarishly endless days have taken.
They are far from understanding the losses, for how could anyone begin to understand them?
The sleepless nights. The harrowing, formless unreality of the days as they mourn together, trying to help each other find some solace in the dark.
Today begins the unrelentingly sad procession of funerals as heartbroken people try to form the words for 10 farewells when just one would have been difficult enough for such a small community.
She lit up every room she was in
The first funeral will be at 11am today for Jessica Gallagher, 24, a fashion designer who studied in Paris and was due to start a new job in Belfast yesterday.
Her aunt, Dolores Gallagher, described her as “one of the brightest, happiest, brightest young women one could ask for”.
She lit up every room she was in, she said, adding she was “everything you could want in a young woman.”
Martin McGill’s (49) funeral service follows at 2 p.m. He was fondly remembered as a “gentle soul” who took care of his elderly mother.
A funeral will be held tomorrow at St Mary’s Church in Bunbeg for James O’Flaherty, 48 – a married father-of-one originally from Sydney, Australia but based in Dunfanaghy. Whilst a joint funeral will be held for mother and son Catherine O’Donnell and James Monaghan in Creeslough tomorrow at 2pm.
It is understood that President Michael D. Higgins will be represented at both funerals today by his aide as he addresses the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
However, he is expected to travel back tonight to be in Donegal for the funerals of the eight remaining victims and to meet with all the families as well as the emergency services who were present at the scene.
Last night when the first wake took place, people wept silently as they left after meeting the grieving families.
“It was awful. There was such an air of unreality. His poor mother – how can she get over it,” said a woman visiting Martin McGill’s home quietly.
Local Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, from nearby Gweedore, had been at the wake and told how the sense of shock that ‘snapped’ the village on Friday still lingers.
It really is about time this community did what it does best and came together
“It’s just heartbreaking when you go door-to-door waking house to house — it’s something you never thought you’d see in this community,” he said.
“There is a lot of trauma. There are scenes here and stories told that you never thought you would hear in your own backyard. And there’s a lot of care that’s needed by this community over time, and especially when things settle down,” he added.
“It is truly a time for this community to do what it does best and that is coming together, being there as a shoulder to cry on and to comfort one another and to help one another.
“You can see groups of people telling their stories across the village. The number of people that were there in the store and encountered the rescue workers, the stories of trying to pull people out of the rubble, trying to sort through the rubble. Other survivors. Today, as we begin burying our dead, it is a village completely stunned and stunned. It’s just an eerie silence.”
The Donegal TD added that it is important that those affected seek help and that “people need to reach out when they are ready”.
Listening to the parents of Leona Harper on Highland Radio that morning, “you were just brought to tears,” he said, adding, “Two parents of a young girl in the prime of her youth were taken from us so cruelly.”
He also recognized the strength of the other families who are “a shining example” for all of us and took the time to speak about the bravery of the emergency services and firefighters and the local people here. “I think that speaks volumes about who this community is and the people we are.”
“As thousands will be doing here over the next few days, I think that in terms of visiting the homes and homes, I think the families and community know that the generosity of the Spirit at home and abroad is immense and that is comforting too The people .”
He said he spoke to a local who received a call from someone offering shelter to the family of an injured man who remains in hospital. “The generosity is enormous,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said Martin McGill was “a crazy Celtic fan” and it would “put a smile on his face” that the Scottish football club had made a donation to the victims’ appeal. “It just shows how good people are when you boil it down to the core,” he said.
Celtic Football Club said a “period of silence” will be held ahead of their game against RB Leipzig tonight to commemorate the 10 victims while the players will wear black armbands.
At St Michael’s Church, known as one of the ‘Seven Great Churches of Donegal’ and designed by renowned architect Liam McCormick, 10 red candles representing the dead flickered on the altar.
Each represented a child, a mother, a friend.
A book of condolence contained messages of heartbreaking sorrow and loss, with a simple reading: “Goodbye to all you dear ones.”
In a side altar, where the northern lights streamed in through the colorful stained glass windows even late in the evening, two women discussed in hushed tones the preparations for the funerals.
The closer to the epicenter, the more forbidding yesterday’s silence seemed.
People spoke in low voices, huddled closely together, some women stood in an embrace for a long time.
And despite the cool wind, the doors of some houses in the village stood wide open, as if they wanted to give and seek solidarity and comfort that cannot be reached alone at this time.
Up at the devastation of the blast site, the normality of sweet autumnal birdsong was strangely contrasted with the sound of hammering and construction as workers constructed a wooden screen that would allow full examination of the scenes while also allowing the blast to reopen the road through the village.
In the gaping windows of a nearby house, where the glass had been blown out in the blast, curtains flapped in the wind – the shards still lay outside on the sidewalk.
The enormity of the tragedy is becoming ever clearer
A counseling session was held quietly at a health center for those who were present at the scene and who had been digging with their bare hands to assist in the rescue and recovery operation, those who had lost loved ones and all those affected by the to contend with, what to contend with happened in their midst.
In the afternoon, teenagers in their school uniforms quietly walked up the street. It goes without saying that they were also offered advice.
The magnitude of the tragedy is beginning to affect the people of Creeslough, the local priest said.
Fr. John Joe Duffy described the realization of the full extent of the tragedy that began to unfold as the first of the 10 victims was brought home.
“People are sad. That numbness and shock and adrenaline you get in those immediate aftermath hours is slowly wearing off and the enormity of the tragedy is becoming clearer,” he said.
“When the first victim of the tragedy was brought home, you saw people along the street and candles being lit along the street, and when you saw a beautiful young person coming home…it began to dawn on people.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/time-stands-still-in-creeslough-and-the-numbness-hangs-as-heavy-as-the-ash-grey-mist-over-nearby-muckish-mountain-42056366.html In Creeslough, time stands still and numbness hangs as heavy as the ashen mist over nearby Muckish Mountain