Buncrana crash victim 'was full of joie de vivre'




A man who died one of Ireland’s worst ever road accidents revelled in life, his funeral heard today.

Co Donegal truck driver Paul Doherty was buried on his 20th birthday.

He is one of eight killed when the car he was in smashed into another vehicle near Buncrana on Sunday.

Three others – Ciaran Sweeney, 19, from Ballyliffin; Eamonn McDaid, from Ballymagan, and Damien McLaughlin, 21, from Umricam, Buncrana – are also being buried today.

Fr Fintan Diggin said: “All the energy and joie de vivre were very much part of his life.

“Paul was a hard-working young man, he was a wage earner making his contribution to society.”

An earth mover, spanner and boiler suit were placed at the front of St Mary’s church, Clonmany, in recognition of his work.

The coffin was carried in by his family including his three younger brothers after being brought from his home in nearby Ballyliffin.

Parents Felix and Sally and siblings Stephen, Mark, Caroline and Garry led mourners in the packed church.

The teenager was one of seven passengers in a Volkswagen Passat which hit another car. That vehicle and pensioner Hugh Friel’s car were then involved in a head-on collision on the road between Clonmany and Buncrana.

They sheared a telegraph pole in two and ended up in a ditch at the side of the road.

The youths were on the road to Buncrana after watching the World Cup final in Clonmany on Sunday night.

Their driver, Sean Kelly, is battling for life in hospital and all his passengers are dead.

Mr Friel was returning from bingo.

Yesterday, Patrick “PJ” McLaughlin and Mark McLaughlin, both aged 21, and Hugh Friel, aged 66, were buried after funeral masses.

Mr Doherty's uncle Cecil Doherty said he was always pushing to get the job done so he could "do a lap" in his car, his favourite being an Audi A4.

He said Paul knew how to “get everybody going” with his “ripping and tearing”.

He was also a welder, and Cecil Doherty said: “One of his great brags was that he was a better welder than his dad.”

The uncle said Paul’s parents wanted to pass on a message: “They would like to thank Paul for the last 20 years. He has entertained them profusely during that time with all his tricks.”

Mr Doherty said they would like to thank everyone in Inishowen and further afield.

“You have been unbelievable in your support at this very, very difficult time,” he said.

“Truly we feel deeply heartfelt wonderment at your ability to share in this pain and it makes us proud to be part of this community.”

He said the family hoped the recovery of Sean Kelly would be swift and that everybody would rally to his support.

The church was packed for the service with hundreds more gathered outside.

Fr Diggin reiterated the family’s thanks to the emergency services for their support and said the victims died instantly.

He said local people had provided shoulders to cry on during the darkest days.

“Who knows what he could have been, who knows what a future on this earth would have meant for him,” the priest added.

He officiated at Mr Friel’s funeral in Urris yesterday.

“Hughie was three times the age roughly of any one of the boys. How young they were, how vibrant and full of life and full of potential,” he said.

“We are trying to comprehend that sense of loss. Grief does not discriminate. All are grieving sorely and asking the same question, ’Why did this happen?’.”

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