Friday 27 April 2018

Five coffins bearing remains of Buncrana victims arrive home

'Little sliver of hope that the baby was saved' - Priest prepares heartbreaking homily for Buncrana victims

The remains of five family members are brought home to Derry Credit: Mark Condren
The remains of five family members are brought home to Derry Credit: Mark Condren

Louise Kelly and Nicola Anderson

The five coffins bearing the remains of the victims of the Buncrana pier tragedy have arrived home in Derry.

Devastated young mother Louise James helped to carry the coffins of her two young sons, Evan (8) and Mark (12) her sister Jodie Lee (15) and her mother Ruth Daniels (59) into the family home in Derry today.

The remains of her partner, Sean (49) were the first to be taken into the house at St Eithne's Park shortly after midday.

Ashen-faced groups of shocked friends and neighbours were there as the five hearses pulled up in the Derry housing estate.

All spoke in hushed tones of their shock at the tragedy which had occurred at Buncrana in Co Donegal,  a very popular scenic spot for many families of Derry.

The priest who will be holding funeral mass for the Buncrana victims has told of his heartbreak as he prepares the homily for their service.

A funeral service for the five victims is due to take place at the Holy Family parish church in Ballymagroarty in Derry at 2pm on Thursday.

Local parish priest Fr. Paddy O'Kane told RTE's Morning Ireland that he has been writing the homily for the family this mornning.

"What I am saying is that there is a little sliver of hope because the baby was saved," he told RTE Radio 1.

Read more: Buncrana tragedy: 'I'll never forget the faces of those poor people,' says hero man who saved baby from sinking car

"I am going to speak about the bravery of Sean for trying to save his family. And also the bravery of that young man [Davitt] who tried to come to the family's rescue."

Father O'Kane went out to O'Brien's Funeral Home in Derry at 11am this morning as the victims are released to the family.

"I will accompany the five bodies back to the family in Ballymagroarty," he said.

Facilities are being made available for people in the areas today so that people can express their sympathies.

Books of condolence have been opened at St Josephs, Galliagh & Holy Family Chapel, Ballymagroarty.

"There's a book and people have been filling it in all the time," said Fr. O'Kane.

Mother of the two little boys and the rescued baby, Louise James, was away with at a hen party when five members of her family died.

Parish priest Father Paddy O'Kane told she is utterly devastated by the loss.

"Louise said to me, 'I have lost everyone, except little Rioghnach-Ann'."

The funerals will leave the family home, 120 St. Eithne’s Park, on Holy Thursday at 1.15pm for 2 O’Clock service in Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty.

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