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Numbness as town readies itself to bury eight victims

HEARTBROKEN families who lost loved ones in the country's worst-ever road crash gathered this morning for the first of the eight funerals.

The first victim to be buried following the Donegal car crash horror was pensioner Hughie Friel, whose funeral took place at 10am today.

It emerged the teetotal farmer was "over the moon" when he won €65 at bingo on Sunday night and had headed for home in great spirits.

The 66-year-old bachelor was known as a cautious driver, and was continuing his journey home to the cottage he shared with his brother on the northerly edge of the Inishowen peninsula when his car was struck by the Volkswagen Passat with eight young occupants.


The impact claimed the lives of Hughie and seven of the young men in the Passat.

Later this morning the body of Mark McLaughlin (21) was taken from his home at Ballynahone to St Mary's Church in Fahan for 11am mass. He was buried afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

Later, the remains of PJ McLaughlin (21) were be taken from his home in Tooban for a funeral mass at 3pm in St Mura's Church, Fahan, followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

Over the next three days all eight victims of the most catastrophic road traffic collision in the history of the State will be laid to rest in freshly dug graves across Inishowen.

Meanwhile the parents of the sole survivor, Shaun Kelly, Pauline and Liam were maintaining a bedside vigil at Letterkenny General Hospital this morning where his condition was described as stable.

The youth has yet to learn that the collision resulted in the deaths of his seven friends and the driver of another car.

One of the teenagers will be buried on his 20th birthday. Paul Doherty (19) was one of eight packed into the car.

Mr Doherty's uncle Cecil said that the bereaved families had no issue with the driver of the car.

"Any one of these young men could have been driving," he said.

Tomorrow, Eamon McDaid (22) and Damien McLaughlin (21) will be buried in the cemetery alongside St Mary's Church, Cockhill, after funeral services at 11am and 1.30pm respectively.


Among the mourners will be Colleen Doherty, the grieving girlfriend of two years of Damien McLaughlin. Colleen's brother, Owen, also perished in a road tragedy six years ago.

"She is just numb. They were so dedicated to each other," said a friend.

Finally, on Friday, James McEleney (23) will be laid to rest following requiem mass at 11am in St Mary's Church.