A bishop said residents of Chrisla, Donegal, were “living through a nightmare of shock and horror” after a devastating explosion at a petrol station killed 10 people.

Friday’s explosion at a service station is being treated as a “tragic accident” by gardaí.

A powerful explosion took the lives of four men, three women, two teenagers – a boy and a girl – and a girl of primary school age.

Ten red candles at St Michael’s Church in Crislough, County Donegal, for the ten victims (Brian Lawless/Pennsylvania)

At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, with the consent of the families, the Guard confirmed the identities of the victims.

The dead include James O’Flaherty (48), Jessica Gallagher (24), Martin McGill (49), Hugh Kelly (59), Martina Martin (49) and Leona Harper (14).

Catherine O’Donnell (39) and her son James Monaghan (13) also died in the blast, as did Robert Garvey (50) and his daughter Shauna Flanagan Garvey (5).

Addressing worshipers during Sunday’s Mass at St Michael’s Church, Chrisla, Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian said: “At this time you, the people of Chrisla, are living through a nightmare of shock and horror as the very heart of the community has been deeply broken. injured Friday afternoon.

“This is an experience that we go through together. But we understand that trauma is different for everyone. We especially keep in the hearts of those for whom it is the most acute.

“We think first of all about the 10 who lost their lives and went to God, and then about those who are close to them, affected by a cruel loss.

“And then we think of the wounded, who struggle to recover in body and spirit. Our thoughts are with everyone, both in the community and first responders in public services, who bore the brunt of being close to the tragedy as it unfolded.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaks to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald at the scene (Brian Lawless/Pennsylvania)

“And we remember everyone here in Chrislaw, and even across Ireland and further afield, who feel helpless and shocked by what has happened.”

He talked about the randomness of what happened and the frustration caused by what can happen in life.

“Over the last couple of days, as people have been getting together in groups to talk about what’s happened here in the last few days, one word that stands out to me about the explosion is what someone said.

“It’s so random, they said. And what she meant was that anyone could be involved. There is something deeply shocking and upsetting about what life can throw at you.

“We ask why this had to happen here, to this person, to that person, why did they have to be there at that terrible moment?

“The injured and the injured must bear a terrible uncertainty in this matter. Others of us can easily feel a certain guilt.

“Why did they, and not me, suffer from the randomness of this tragedy? Basically, there is a terrible realization that we are not the masters of our destiny.

“We are all very delicate, fragile and vulnerable,” he said.

Ten red candles flickered in front of the altar during the mass.


Gardaí have confirmed that an investigation has been launched and is being co-ordinated from the incident room at Milford Garda Station.

“The Garda Technical Bureau, assisted by other agencies, will continue to examine the scene, which remains cordoned off. These reviews are likely to continue in the coming days,” the Garda said in a statement.

The closures on the N56 remain in place.


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The statement also confirmed that the bodies of the victims have been taken to Letterkenny University Hospital, where post-mortem examinations have begun and will continue in the coming days.

Providing an update on the victims of the blast, the gardaí said a man in his 20s was in a serious condition in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Seven other injured people are being treated at University Hospital Letterkenny, all in a stable condition.


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