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Family unveils Buncrana Pier tragedy anniversary plans

From left, Buncrana pier victims Mark McGrotty (12) and Evan McGrotty (eight), Sean McGrotty (48), Ruth Daniels (58) and Jodie Lee Daniels (14).
Seamus McKinney

A MASS and memorial walk are planned later this month to mark the first anniversary of the Buncrana Pier drowning tragedy.

Derry woman Louise James lost her partner Sean McGrotty (48), their sons, Mark (12) and Evan (8), her sister, Jodie-Lee (14) and her mother Ruth Daniels (58) when the family car slid on algae from Buncrana pier into Lough Swilly on the evening of March 20 last year.

Seconds before the car sank, Mr McGrotty managed to hand the couple's baby daughter, Ríoghnach through the window to Davitt Walsh who swam out to the stricken vehicle. Mr Walsh, who was walking along the pier with his girlfriend when he saw the tragedy unfold, managed to bring the infant safely to shore.

In a statement issued through Fr Michael Canny yesterday the family released details of plans to commemorate the tragedy.

An anniversary Mass will be offered on Monday March 20 at Holy Family Church in Ballymagroarty from where the five victims were buried last year.

The following Friday, March 24, a memorial walk in memory of the family will take place from Sainsbury's store at Derry's Strand Road to Ebrington Square.

The walk, which starts at 6pm, has been organised to raise funds for research into Muscular Dystrophy in memory of young Evan who suffered from the condition. All proceeds from the walk will go to the Evan McGrotty Research Fund for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Registration for the walk, with a £2.50 registration fee, takes place on the day.

Fr Canny also appealed for privacy for the family as the anniversary approaches.

He said: “Louise, the Daniels and the McGrotty family are deeply grateful for the prayers and support over the last year. As the anniversary of the terrible tragedy approaches, they would welcome space for privacy at this time.”

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