Prayers for baby Ríoghnach on first anniversary of Buncrana Pier tragedy

Baby Ríoghnach McGrotty and her mum Louise at their home in Derry. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

PRAYERS were said for baby Ríoghnach McGrotty, the only survivor of the Buncrana Pier tragedy, at a Mass marking the first anniversary last night.

A packed Holy Family Church in Derry also remembered Derry City FC captain Ryan McBride following his sudden death on Sunday.

Sean McGrotty (48), his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), their grandmother Ruth Daniels (58) and aunt Jodie-Lee Daniels (14) drowned when their car slid on algae into Lough Swilly on March 20 last year.

Seconds before the car disappeared below the waves, Mr McGrotty managed to hand his baby daughter Ríoghnach through a window to Donegal man Davitt Walsh, who had swum out to the sinking vehicle.

The children’s mother, Louise James, and her brother, Derry City footballer Josh Daniels, were joined by Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown at last night's Mass.

It was celebrated by Holy Family curate Fr Noel Brown with Fr Joe Gormley and Buncrana priest Fr John Walsh, who anointed the victims of the tragedy last year.

Fr Brown said the tragedy plunged the family and community into a sudden and impenetrable darkness.

“Naturally we ask why did it happen. But often we just don’t know and there is a tendency to say ‘it is the will of God’," he said.

"However, let us be clear - God did not want this tragedy to happen. There is only one thing we can do. Just as when a blackout occurs at any time, we rush for a light."

The priest said that as the apostles had felt lost after the death of Christ, they walked in his light on Easter Sunday.

He urged the congregation not to judge life by the way it ends.

“A tragic end does not negate the rest of life. Let us give thanks to God for Sean, Evan, Mark, Ruth and Jodie Lee,” he said.

Former schoolmates of Jodie-Lee, Mark and Evan provided music and carried gifts to the altar at the Mass, as prayers were said for all of the victims.

A special prayer was read for baby Ríoghnach that she might “continue to be blessed with good health and filled with peace and joy all the days of her life”.

There were also prayers for Davitt Walsh and Ryan McBride, his family and “the family that is Derry City football club.”

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