The ten people who lost their lives in the Creeslough explosion have been remembered at a concert attended by their families and members of the emergency services.
James O Flaherty (48), Jessica Gallagher (24), Martin McGill (49), Catherine O’Donnell (39) and her son James Monaghan (13), Hugh Kelly (59), Martina Martin (49), Robert Garwe (50) and his little daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe (5), and Leona Harper (14) died in the tragedy in the small Donegal village last October, prompting national heartache.
Singer Brian Kennedy, whose father is from Creeslough, was among those to take to the stage to perform at the ‘Together for Creeslough’ concert held in the Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny, last night.
It was a chance for families to join together to remember their loved ones, and to express their thanks to those who fought so bravely to save the victims the day the terrible explosion occurred last autumn.
A packed house at the Cresslough Together concert tonight in Letterkenny. Fair play to all the artists the music is beautiful #creeslough #neverforget ♥️@KennedySinger @ClannadMusic @BrianMcFadden @moyaclannad @LisaMcHughx @altanmusic @_thedonkeys pic.twitter.com/qw7385mPzs
— Leanne Mc Brearty (@LeanneMcBrearty) January 30, 2023
About 1,500 people, including families of the deceased and emergency service personnel, were in attendance. The ‘hopeful’ concert, hosted by Moya Brennan of Clannad and Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan, also featured performances from country singer Lisa McHugh, Clare Bowe, Keith Duffy, The Whistling Donkeys, and Mickey Joe Harte.
Renowned pianist Claire Bowes, who lost her sight in the 1998 Omagh bomb, also performed. Eurovision winner Dana was also pictured in attendance at the event, for which tickets sold out just hours after going on sale last month.
Local schoolchildren from Scoil Mhuire and Faugher National School performed The Town I Loved So Well, accompanied by pianist Claire Bowes, who lost her sight aged just 15.
Speaking to BBC News NI, she said that hopefully the people of Creeslough “have a bit of hope that things will improve”.
“Things will never be the same again. But that is OK. It is now part of their story forever, but their lives will continue and these darker days will pass,” she said.
Brian Kennedy, who has links to the area, said the musicians performing wanted to send a message that the people of Creeslough have not been forgotten almost four months on from the fatal blast.
“They’ve had such a terrible loss and we won’t ever forget that,” he said.
“Tonight we just want to bring a wee bit of healing, if we can, to the crowd.”
Kennedy said he wanted to see “a few shoulders drop and a few brows unfurrow” if possible for those grieving.
Fr John Joe Duffy, the parish priest who said the funerals of many of those who died, and was widely praised for his pastoral care to the bereaved, received a standing ovation as he got on stage to thank all who he said, according to Irish Times journalist Freya McClements, “sung not just in the ordinary way…but from the very depths of your hearts and your souls out of love for all the people affected by the tragedy”.
One attendee, taking to Twitter after the concert, described the gesture as “an emotional end to a lovely evening”.
At one point during the moving gathering, those in attendance held up candles to “shine a light” for Creeslough, a community still in mourning.
Shining a light for #Creeslough tonight pic.twitter.com/5JcV5YTa7X
— Rosita Mahony (@RositaMahony) January 30, 2023