Northern Ireland news

Tragedy re-awakened shock of Creeslough explosion

Father-of-one, Stephen Montgomery was killed in a work place incident in west Donegal on Monday.
Seamus McKinney

The death in a work place accident of digger driver Stephen Montgomery has re-awakened the shock felt in west Donegal following the Creeslough explosion tragedy, a Church of Ireland clergyman has said.

Mr Montgomery (43) from Dunfanghy, who was married with one daughter, was killed in an accident at a worksite in west Donegal on Monday. It is believed Mr Montgomery was clearing rocks at the site of a house when the accident occurred.

Gardaí evacuated the area and called in the Irish Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit following reports that there had been an explosion. Two other men working at the site were uninjured.

A Garda spokesman said on Tuesday investigations into the incident were continuing and the Republic’s Office of the State Pathologist had been notified. A post mortem examination was expected to be held at Letterkenny University Hospital on Tuesday.

Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev David Skuce said Mr Montgomery’s death had stunned the entire community in his native Dunfanaghy and Creeslough area.

“It has shocked the wider community here, particularly after what happened in Creeslough,” Rev Skuce said.

Ten people, including two teenagers and a five-year-old girl, died when a suspected gas explosion caused an Applegreen shopping and apartment block to collapse in Creeslough in October last year. One of the men killed in the Creeslough tragedy, James O’Flaherty had been living in Dunfanaghy. Mr O’Flaherty (48) was originally from Sydney, Australia but was living in Dunfanaghy with his wife, Tracey and son, Hamish.

Rev Skuce said that while he did not know Mr Montgomery personally, he knew members of his family and knew the victim to be a “good man”.

Gweedore parish priest, Fr Brian Ó Fearraigh was called to the scene of Monday’s incident at Cnoc Fola (Bloody Foreland). Fr Ó Fearraigh said he administered the Last Rites to Mr Montgomery.

“I made my way to the scene of the accident and I was greeted by three workmen on site and that’s how I found out. I arrived there and did what I had to do and that is just to administer the Last Rites as any priest would do in a situation like that,” he said.

Fr Ó Fearraigh told BBC Radio Foyle he comforted people at the scene of the tragedy and led prayers

The Gweedore priest also recalled the Creeslough tragedy and the funeral of Mr O’Flaherty in the local parish. He recalled Mr O’Flaherty’s son’s comments at his father’s funeral when he urged people to grateful for life and family.

“I think with yesterday’s (Monday’s) tragedy, and any tragedy in fact, it brings home to us the fragility of life, how fragile life is and that in just split seconds everything can change and that lives can be turned upside-down. People, individuals and families and communities can be plunged into sadness and sorrow,” Fr Ó Fearraigh said.