Creeslough community hold mass in honour of explosion victims

‘People responded immediately even before the emergency services arrived on the scene. They did what they could and you do what you can do in such horrific times’

Creeslough community hold mass in honour of explosion victims

Stephen Maguire & Mick CarolanSunday World Video Team

Local priest Fr John Joe Duffy said the heart had been torn out of Creeslough.

Fr Duffy said the devastation at the Applegreen Service Station was nothing that anybody locally had every experienced before.

"I am just worried as the days and weeks unfold. It's so surreal and unreal. It's just heart-breaking and terrible. It was like a fictional movie unfolding before our eyes.

"Nobody expected something like this. It has broken the heart of our community," he said.

Fr Duffy confirmed he had spoken with the families who had lost loved ones in the tragedy which struck the village just after 3.15pm.

He paid tribute to all those who helped in any way, especially the emergency services who remain at the scene.

He added: "People responded immediately even before the emergency services arrived on the scene. They did what they could and you do what you can do in such horrific times.

"The emergency services then arrived and they have worked through the night and have been working thorugh what will be a very slow process. It's just heartbreaking."

Fr Duffy asked the nation to keep Creeslough and its people in their thoughts.

"I ask you to keep us in your prayers. It will be tough in the days, weeks and months ahead."

The Creeslough community will carry and support each other through a terrible grief and sadness beyond words, Fr John Joe Duffy told parishioners this Saturday morning.

Friday’s tragic explosion at the Applegreen Service Station has broken the heart of the community, with seven people confirmed dead, eight injured and more unaccounted for.

“As a family, we will help each other through these hours and days and weeks that lie ahead,” Father John Joe Duffy told a special Mass at St. Michael’s Church.

Fr Duffy, offering the 10am Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St Michael's Church, reminded the congregation Mary was a mother who lost her child, and that Mary and God are with them during this tragedy.

On the chapel altar lay prayers donated by young students from Dublin who are on a retreat in nearby Ards.

“We are defined by community,” Fr Duffy said. “Our community has been a great source of support and strength to those who have been directly impacted by the terrible tragedy that took place yesterday.”

Special prayers were offered to the bereaved, to the injured, to the emergency service workers and to those in hospital undergoing procedures today.

The congregation prayed for those who are still awaiting news and for those around the world who are connected to Creeslough.

“It is with each other's support that we will reach out to those who are directly impacted upon, it is with that support that we will chart our way through what is the tsunami of grief that is hitting us at this time,” Fr Duffy said.

Among those who were in the packed congregation at the mass was the chairman of the local St Michael's GAA Club, Liam McElhinney.

Mr McElhinney revealed how he was in the Applegreen Service Station just a half an hour before the horrific explosion.

"I had left the shop at 2.30. It could easily have been me. It just wasn’t my time, I suppose.

"It is such a busy hub and it’s in shatters

"We expect to see these type of things in other places, but not in our wee community in Creeslough. You see things like this on tv and you just don’t expect it to come to your own door. We are in total shock. It will take days, weeks and maybe years to recover from this.

"The mood is very sombre, especially with young people involved. It is a very sad day for the community.

"Families who have been involved in the club. It’s such a sad day for the club and for the community."

He revealed that there had been people selling lotto tickets for a local sports club who always sat outside the service station on a Friday afternoon but they had just left minutes before the explosion.

He added "The worst thing is the waiting. We, as a community, will rally around them. We will do everything in our power to make things better for them.

"It has shocked the community and we just pray that we can get through it. The crowd here shows that we are a tight-knit community.

"We can only rally but it will take a long time to get over this. We will get through it together."

The scene itself remained one of utter devastation yesterday, the day after the explosion changed the lives of those in the village forever.

A sense of waiting and confirmation hung in the air.

Local coffee shops including Huckleberry and The Coffee Pot opened their doors to emergency workers and locals.

Locals sat in hushed tones beside emergency workers who looked weary.

"I've been up since 5am feeding animals. I went to work and I came down to the scene the moment I heard what had happened. I helped out at the scene last night.

"I tried to sleep for an hour this morning but I couldn't. I have an image in my head of one man and I can't talk about it. It was horrific", he said.

The manager of Letterkenny University Hospital, Sean Murphy, revealed how they were forced to discharge some patients on Friday to prepare for an expected rush of patients from the blast.

The hospital launched the Emergency Protocol Plan on Friday evening as news of the tragedy broke.

Mr Murphy thanked all those who cooperated and paid tribute to his staff and the emergency services.

He also confirmed that eight people including children were admitted to the hospital.

As well as their own ambulance personnel, private ambulance operators offered their services.

"As with all these emergency situations we see the best in our health service.

"We did have to discharge patients as were were not sure how many casualties we were going to receive but additional GPS were put in place and they remain in place today.

"We opened up a community assessment hub and additional nurses were also mobilised."

Mr Murphy confirmed among the casualties were children and some of those injured were relatives of staff members at the hospital.

"Yes, there were children admitted and families waited in the hospital to hear news and to find out if their loved ones had been brought to the hospital."

He added "This morning we are thinking of all the families so tragically affected and I want to pay tribute to all those who help in any way and that includes the members of the public who were so understand and also the staff at the hospital.

"All we can do is to offer our condolences," he said.

Popular Videos

Watch MoreMore Videos


More Videos

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Latest News