Northern Ireland news

Road accident which paralysed GAA star recalled at Donegal crash funeral

The funeral of Nathan Dixon-Gill took place at St Mary's Church, Cockhill, Buncrana. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

A priest at the funeral of a teenager killed in a Donegal road tragedy has spoken of his own experience of a crash which left one of Ulster's top GAA players paralysed.

Fr John Walsh told mourners in Buncrana how he survived the accident in 1973 as he returned from the wake for a former classmate, Tyrone and Ulster GAA great Brendan Dolan, who had also been killed in a road crash.

He was speaking at the funeral of Nathan Dixon-Gill (18), who died along with close friend Nathan Farrell (17) in a single-car collision near Quigley's Point in Inishowen early on Saturday. Three other friends were also injured.

Fr Walsh urged young people at St Mary's Church, Cockhill to accept that life is fragile at any age.

Referring to Brendan Dolan's death, he said: “The next night four of us going back to Maynooth from his wake collided with an express bus when our combined speed was about 120mph.

"The driver of our car, Colum P Mullan, the Gaelic All-Star (a leading county player with Derry), spent the rest of his life – 31 years – lying paralysed from the top of his chest down.

“And we were totally without fault in that accident. Dear young people, I know what I am talking about. Life is fragile. Treat it with care and use every minute God gives you to love, honour and serve Him.”

Children from Nathan's schools, Scoil Mhuire and St Oran's national school, formed a guard of honour as his remains were carried into the church led by his mother Sinead, father Leonard, step-father Liam, grandfather Seamus and other family members.

Fr Walsh said the victim was “bubbly” and full of fun and life but a future that should have been - and a dream that could have been - was now lost.

“May he allow me to say that you are not indestructible at the age of 17 or 18 or 19, or 15 and 16 for that matter.”

The Donegal-based priest pleaded with young people to “live life on its terms, within its rules”.

The funeral of Nathan Farrell will take place at the same church today.

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