Buncrana victim 'too young to die', says priest

Mourners gathered from up to an hour before the funeral of Buncrana car crash victim Mark McLaughlin today.

As the service began a little after 11am, Parish priest Father Neil McGoldrick said the 21-year-old was too young to die.

He said the area had been hit with a shockwave on Sunday night.

“Somebody described it as a tsunami, rolling across Inishowen, overwhelming us all,” Fr McGoldrick said.

“Surely no words can adequately describe that harsh reality that has left Mark’s family and so many other people feeling stunned and helpless.

“Eight deaths, seven young people, all gone. In an instant. How can this be?” he asked.

Fr McGoldrick said the sight on Monday evening of hearse after hearse in towns and villages across Inishowen, from Fahan to Buncrana to Clonmany, was deeply distressing.

Locals packed the grounds of the picturesque church, huddling together in a vain attempt to shield themselves from blustery winds and rain.

Inside, harrowing sobs could be heard from one young girl, while other mourners dabbed at red, tearful eyes with crumpled tissues.

Fr McGoldrick painted a picture of Mr McLaughlin as a hard worker who tended sheep as a schoolboy and who drove the tractor at the family farm when he was just nine years old, before eventually becoming a lorry driver.

He was a very good son and a close brother, the priest said.

“He was willing to do any job he was asked to do – the small jobs and the big ones,” Fr McGoldrick said.

But despite his drive and commitment, he was not easy to get up in the morning.

In a light moment, Fr McGoldrick told mourners that Mr McLaughlin’s mother would have to call him two or three times to get him out of bed.

To his parents, he said: “People sympathise with you, it’s unreal, because you still can’t take in that this is happening.

“We’re all suffering, we’re all reaching out to each other, helping to support each other at this difficult time.”

And in a stark reminder of the tragedy that has engulfed the area, Fr McGoldrick said the gathering would be repeated at seven other funerals.

“And old wounds will be reopened as people remember past tragedies,” he said.

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