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‘It is so, so sad’


SOLIDARITY Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Seamus Weir, signing the Book of Condolence at Aras an Chontae in Castlebar.

Anton McNulty

MAYO Council Council has expressed its sympathy and solidarity with the community of Creeslough in Co Donegal following the death of ten people in a tragic accident on Friday.
A minute’s silence was observed at the start of the monthly meeting of the council on Monday, and councillors expressed their sympathies to the people of Donegal but in particular to the families of the ten victims who died following an explosion at an Applegreen service station at around 3pm on Friday.
The Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Seamus Weir, has now opened a Book of Condolence for the victims of the tragedy.
Cllr Weir said “As Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in Creeslough. On behalf of the people of Mayo, I extend our deepest sympathies to all affected by the tragic events of last Friday.”
The Book of Condolence may be signed in person at Áras an Chontae on the Mall in Castlebar, between 9.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday, or online at https://www.mayo.ie/BookOfCondolence. The flags at county buildings are flying at half-mast in solidarity with the people of Donegal.
Achill councillor Paul McNamara told Monday’s meeting that it is difficult to comprehend what happened and how a normal Friday afternoon had turned into a tragedy for so many families.
“It is hard to believe that on a normal Friday afternoon at around 3 o’clock a young girl of five years old was going into a petrol station with her father to get a birthday cake for her mother. Unfortunately, that party will never take place. I cannot imagine how that mother feels and also the parents of Leona [Harper], who was only 14 years old. She was choosing an ice cream before going off to stay in a friend’s house. Her mother and father waiting through the night for confirmation that their daughter was dead.
“Hopefully over time the community will come to terms of what has happened. It will take years if ever for the families to get over a tragedy like that to hit such a small community,” he said, while complimenting the work of the emergency services and the local volunteers who worked tirelessly to try to help the victims.

Councillor after councillor spoke of their deep sadness as news of the death toll rose on Saturday evening.
Cllr Gerry Coyle, who owns a petrol station in Belmullet, described how busy they can be on a Friday afternoon, saying it was almost unthinkable how such an tragedy could befall such a small community.
“I know a lot of people in sporting activities in Donegal, and they are all completely traumatised as is the whole county,” he said.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne said it was frightening to think about what happened, saying he felt healing would take a long time for the tight-knit community, where everyone knows everyone.
Ballinrobe-based councillor Michael Burke added that it is hard to put into words the impact such a tragedy will have on the people of Creeslough.
“What can one say to the people in Donegal. When you look at the picture of two parents and their children who died in this accident. It is hard to put words on such a tragedy and you never know when harm can strike at anyones door. It is a hugely sad occasion and it will take a long time for the community to heal,” he said.

Horrible tragedy
Carrowholly-based councillor John O’Malley said that his thoughts and prayers are with the community as they face into a difficult week of burying their dead.
“It’s an awful thing for those people to go through. We cannot think to imagine how bad it is for them… They have an awful week ahead of them burying their loved ones. That is something we hope we never have to experience. But you never know what will happen from day to day, from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. You just don’t know. It is so, so sad.”
The ten people who died in Friday's explosion at the Applegreen Service Station and apartment block have been named as Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan; Robert Garwe, 50, and his five-year-old daughter, Shauna Flanagan Garwe; 14-year-old Leona Harper; Jessica Gallagher, 24; James O'Flaherty, 48; Martin McGill, 49; Martina Martin, 49; and 59-year-old Hugh Kelly.