Mother and son killed in Creeslough blast ‘were always side by side’
Mourners heard how Catherine O’Donnell was full of life and her 13-year-old son James was a fan of wrestling.
The mother and teenage son killed in the Creeslough blast “were always side by side”, their funeral Mass has heard.
Catherine O’Donnell and her 13-year-old son James were among the 10 people killed in an explosion at a service station in the Co Donegal village on Friday afternoon.
Mourners gathered at the entrance of St Michael’s Church in Creeslough as their coffins were carried into the church this afternoon (Wed).
Parish priest Father John Joe Duffy began the service by extending his condolences to the family, especially Ms O’Donnell’s daughter Sinead, partner Charlie Flood, mother Margaret and James’s father Christopher.
He told the congregation it was “a hard blow” for the families to lose both Ms O’Donnell and James.
“Let us turn to God, asking God to give us hope in this terrible sadness that we are experiencing, as we offer this Mass for a mother and a son, who are side by side, who were always side by side, who are side by side now, and who will be side by side, hand in hand together,” he said.
Addressing Mr Flood, Fr Duffy said: “To lose one who was so precious and loving and loved… there are no words that can give definition to that scale of grief and loss.”
Ms O’Donnell was described as “bubbly”, “glam”, full of life and intelligent, and who loved parties, having recently attended a Garth Brooks concert in Dublin.
“She was a loving mother, a loving partner, a loving daughter and one who was much, much loved.”
Fr Duffy added: “When we think of James, if we think of a plane, a plane that is taxiing down the runway about to take off – that was James, who was just a child taxiing down the runway about to take off into his teenage years.”
The congregation heard that James had recently attended his first disco.
The cleric spoke of the family’s difficulty in coming to terms with “the extremely painful, heartbreaking and incomprehensible loss that you are experiencing”.
“We are doing what we know best, and that is we are standing with you. We are walking with you, we are praying for you. So many people are praying for you, walking with you and wanting to reach out and help you.”
Fr Duffy said the strength of the community, and the community in Scotland where members of the extended family live, has been a source of “great comfort”.
“Those visible good deeds we have all seen since Friday give us hope, lift us up, and break into that terrible grief to give somewhat of a little consolation.”
He said the silence after the disaster was striking.
“A mass silence of people gathered together supporting one another, and that has been the story of this community in these days.
“So sometimes, dear friends, we do not need words. What we need most of all is we need God and we need one another, we need prayer and we need community.”
Items to do with wrestling were brought up to the altar as a symbol of James’s interests, with a watch and necklace that represented the style that was so important to Ms O’Donnell.
The funeral was attended by President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Micheal Martin’s aide-de-camp.
During the service, Fr Duffy urged people affected by the tragedy to make use of support services available at their GP and schools in the area.
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