Northern Ireland news

Mother whose children and husband died in Lough Foyle tragedy says 'cherish every moment'

Geraldine Mullan's husband and children, John, Tomás and Amelia died in the Lough Foyle drowning tragedy in August.
Seamus McKinney

A WOMAN who lost her family in a Lough Foyle drowning tragedy has urged people to cherish every second of life and tell their families how much they are loved.

Geraldine Mullan’s husband, John (49) and children, Tomás (14) and Amelia (6) died when their family car plunged into Lough Foyle on August 20 as they returned home to Moville from a family day out.

When divers retrieved the children’s bodies, they found Amelia being held in the arms of her older brother.

Mrs Mullan survived the tragedy. In an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTE’s Prime Time last night, she recalled how she pleaded with Irish Coastguard officer Kevin Barr to let her go into the water to be with her family.

In a highly emotional interview, she said Mr Barr remained in the water with her and held on to her as she begged him to let her go.

“I had lost all hope at that time Miriam. I knew my family were gone and I just wanted to be with them. And I did. I asked him on a couple of occasions to let me go.

“And, you know, Kevin was so brave. He held on to me and he kept apologising because he knew they were gone too. And he just said, 'I am so sorry, Geraldine, I can’t let you go'. You know? And I, I am here today because Kevin and the work of all those people that worked so hard that night to get me out of the water. So that’s why my dad, you know, referred to all of them in unison (at their funeral) as my guardian angels,” she said.

A nurse at Letterkenny University Hospital, Mrs Mullan said she wanted to thank all those who helped on the night of the tragedy.

“I can’t turn back the clock. I wish it could be the 19th of August and things were different but I can’t change what happened on the 20th of August.”

She said that her Christmas gift to her family would be that more children were given “hugs and kisses” from their parents.

“If more people tell their loved ones that they love each other because I didn’t know the 20th of August was going to be the last day I got to tell John, Tomás and Amelia I loved them. So, my message is just simple. Just remember how precious life is, cherish every moment and tell the ones you love you love them,” she said.

Mrs Mullan said she struggled every day but got through because of the love of the people in her life.

“They’re definitely with me I spirit; they’re in my heart. And that’s where they will forever stay. I’ll love them for the rest of my days. You know, I tell them every day still I love them and I always will, you know, so I will never give up hope.”

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