Opinion

Impact of the tragic Creeslough explosion felt across Ireland and beyond

The Irish News view: It is unfortunate that the official investigation into the cause of the blast hasn't concluded

A gas explosion is suspected of causing the tragic loss of life in the Applegreen complex in Creeslough on October 7 2022
A gas explosion is suspected of causing the tragic loss of life in the Applegreen complex in Creeslough on October 7 2022 A gas explosion is suspected of causing the tragic loss of life in the Applegreen complex in Creeslough on October 7 2022

THE tragedy of the deadly explosion which struck the Co Donegal village of Creeslough last year was felt across Ireland and beyond as people shared in the shock of a disaster which claimed 10 lives.

President Michael D Higgins and the then taoiseach Micheál Martin led the sympathy of the nation, joined by international figures including Pope Francis and King Charles.

But for all the solidarity from elsewhere, it is Creeslough and the surrounding area which has had to come to terms with the sorrow – a "tsunami of grief," as parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy described it – left in the wake of the October 7 2022 blast.

Read more:

Creeslough anniversary: One year on, Co Donegal village is still raw

Creeslough priest sought counselling following explosion

Creeslough anniversary: The tragedy victims

This week the community will remember the first anniversary of the deaths of Martin McGill (49), James O'Flaherty (48), Martina Martin (49), James Monaghan (13), Catherine O'Donnell (39), Robert Garwe (50) and his daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe (5), Hugh Kelly (59), Jessica Gallagher (24) and Leona Harper (14).

The victims of the Creeslough disaster were, top, from left: Shauna Flanagan Garwe, Robert Garwe, Leona Harper, Hugh Kelly, Jessica Gallagher. Bottom , from left: Martin McGill, James O'Flaherty, Martina Martin, Catherine O'Donnell, James Monaghan.
The victims of the Creeslough disaster were, top, from left: Shauna Flanagan Garwe, Robert Garwe, Leona Harper, Hugh Kelly, Jessica Gallagher. Bottom , from left: Martin McGill, James O'Flaherty, Martina Martin, Catherine O'Donnell, James Monaghan. The victims of the Creeslough disaster were, top, from left: Shauna Flanagan Garwe, Robert Garwe, Leona Harper, Hugh Kelly, Jessica Gallagher. Bottom , from left: Martin McGill, James O'Flaherty, Martina Martin, Catherine O'Donnell, James Monaghan.

Their families will come together on Saturday afternoon at the Applegreen shop, apartment and petrol station complex which was devastated by the suspected gas explosion. Later Fr Duffy will say Mass in St Michael's Church.

Wooden hoardings partially obscure the scarred site and the tangle of steel and masonry left behind by the blast. On the side of the busy main road linking Creeslough to Letterkenny to the south and Dunfanaghy to the north, it's a familiar sight to many northerners. More poignantly for the Creeslough community, it is a daily reminder of an episode which not only claimed 10 lives but also left eight others injured.

Donegal County Council is this week working to erect new hoardings, measuring 4.8 metres tall, which will be set further back from the roadside to help facilitate the memorial service and those who wish to leave flowers and mementos.

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that a year on, neither the official investigation into the cause of the explosion has concluded nor the remains of the buildings demolished.

The families of the Creeslough dead have appealed for privacy as they mark the anniversary of a tragedy whose memory will surely echo across not only Donegal but also Ireland for years and decades to come.

It is essential that their wishes are respected. It is also important that in the days and weeks ahead, the rest of us show support for Creeslough however we can.