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Creeslough blast victim James O’Flaherty ‘lived for his family’, funeral hears

“Know that you are not alone in your sadness and grief, we are all with you, we support you, and we remember those infamous words ‘our hearts are like our mountains in the hills of Donegal.”

The funeral mass of Creeslough victim James O'Flaherty at St Marys Church Derrybeg. Photo by Steve Humphreys 12th October 2022.

Mourners at the funeral mass of Creeslough victim James O'Flaherty at St Mary's Church Derrybeg. Photo by Steve Humphreys12th October 2022.

Aoife BreslinIndependent.ie

The third funeral of the ten victims of the Creeslough tragedy took place in the Derrybeg, Donegal, today.

James O’Flaherty (49), was originally from Sydney in Australia, but had settled in the seaside town of Dunfanaghy with his wife Tracey and son Hamish.

At the outset of the service for Mr O’Flaherty, Fr Brian Ó’Fearraigh expressed his deepest sympathies and ensured that the community will be “a source of strength and a source of comfort during these difficult times” to the O’Flaherty family.

The mass that was said through the Irish language was opened with Fr Ó’Fearraigh saying: “We are here to celebrate and give thanks to God for the beautiful gift of James O Flaherty’s life.

“I hope and pray that his wife Tracey and son Hamish, who is so brave and courageous I might add, find comfort and support not only in those who are gathered inside and outside the church but also in those who have sent you messages of support.”

Mourners at the funeral mass of Creeslough victim James O'Flaherty at St Mary's Church Derrybeg. Photo by Steve Humphreys12th October 2022.

“Know that you are not alone in your sadness and grief, we are all with you, we support you, and we remember those infamous words ‘our hearts are like our mountains in the hills of Donegal.”

In his homily, Fr Ó’Fearraigh said that we must remind ourselves that “togetherness is key” at this difficult time.

He continued by naming the other nine victims of the tragic service station explosion, emphasising that we are all together in this horrific time.

That this terrible incident “didn’t just hit Tracey and Hamish but all of us at the core of our being.”

“We are dismantling the boundaries between life and death; death is not the end.”

“James’ life is not ended now, but rather changed, you can still be close to James and James is close to you.”

James’s brother John, who could not be present in Donegal to attend the funeral, was watching online.

Fr John Joe Duffy, who is the parish priest in St. Michael’s Church Creeslough, was present at the mass.

Mourners from Dunfanaghy, the village of Creeslough, surrounding areas and all around Ireland travelled to St Mary’s Church Derrybeg, with many standing outside for the service.

People lined the streets as Mr O’Flaherty’s coffin was carried into the church followed by his family.

President Michael D Higgins was in attendance at the funeral, this being the first of the eight funerals that he was present at, as he was unable to attend Jessica Gallagher’s and Martin McGill’s funeral that took place yesterday.

In his homily, Fr Ó’Fearraigh described James as a committed work colleague, a dear friend to many and a truly amazing father.

“He was a man who had high morals, strong traits and values he shared with his late father, he was a man of honour.”

James was described as a family man who “showered his loving son and loving wife, with hugs and kisses every day.”

“James lived for Hamish and Tracey; you were inseparable as a family.”

“James who loved to play golf had once said to Tracey, ‘Why would I play golf when I can spend my time with you?’”

His support from reading through every essay that Tracey handed in for college, his work inside and outside the house and his crazy signature omelettes were all told as they remembered James.

Tracey and James met when they were both living in Paris, where the family had also spent their Easter holidays this year.

The symbols brought up during the mass included ‘Flying Solo’ a book by Ronald Dahl that James and Hamish were reading together before his passing.

A Dairy Milk chocolate bar was also bought up with the gifts to symbolise James’ sweet tooth that made him eat almost all of Tracey’s birthday cake one year.

At the end of the funeral mass, his son Hamish spoke about his father saying he was a “great man, who worked very hard and very long each day.”

He remembered his father as a man who has no shame, which Hamish said, “is a great thing to have.”

“He wore a jacket with a huge paint stain on it from leaning on a wall where the paint was still wet, he wore it everywhere.”

Hamish also reminded people to “be grateful for your families because they will not be there forever.”

As the mass ended the coffin was carried out of the church and taken for burial at Magheragallon cemetery.

The funeral of Catherine O’Donnell and her son James Monaghan will also be held today at St. Michael’s Church at 2pm.


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