A funeral was held for the youngest victim of the Donegal petrol station tragedy and her father, who died together while buying a birthday cake for her mother.
Robert Garwe and his daughter Shauna, 5, were the latest victims to be buried in Creeslough, a village in the shadow of the Derryveagh mountains that was transformed by the disaster that left 10 people dead.
Even by the standards of grief endured by villagers in recent days, the sight of Shauna’s tiny wicker coffin being carried into St. Michael’s Church seemed to many almost unbearable.
In a village of barely 400 inhabitants, everyone knows each other and they have all borne the burden of mourning. Most of the victims lived here. The others were known to people here.
The strain was sometimes evident on the face of Father John Joe Duffy, upon whom fell the weight of the responsibility of directing most of the services.
Two hearses arrived at the church side by side on Saturday. Father Duffy said they had lived side by side and he prayed that they would be side by side in heaven.
Father Duffy told the mourners: “Side by side here, we pray they’ll be side by side in heaven.”
He offered his “sincere condolences” to Garwe’s partner Aine “for the passing of your partner and your beautiful daughter”, and welcomed family members who had come to the service, including some of the Zimbabwe.
Symbols representing different aspects of the lives of Garwe, 50, and Shauna were present, including a scooter “which was an integral part of their lives”.
“I don’t know who could go faster on the scooter, but I know that on foot Shauna could pass her father, whether it’s at the school gate, whether it’s on the road where I have them seen and met so often, or being in the store where she helped stack the shelves with the girls,” Father Duffy told mourners.
“The grief is so visible in our eyes, people’s eyes that emanate.
“We are gathered here this morning, once again, to say goodbye to a father and his beautiful, beloved and very loving little girl.”
Garwe was remembered as proud of his Zimbabwean roots and proud of his children.
Father Duffy said: “I spoke with Bob often…he just had this friendliness, staying fit and well behaved was so important to him, and he had this beautiful love for little Shauna.”
He described Shauna as someone who “loved to entertain” by reading a poem written in his tribute.
“Shauna could always be heard with a chuckle, and when she sat down she really liked to squirm,” the priest said.
“On her pink scooter, she would come to the door, with Kylo in tow, her little dog companion. So talkative and bubbly, she loved to play and have fun with her friends every day.
Irish President Michael D Higgins was among the mourners on Saturday – the sixth funeral service at St Michael’s for the victims of the tragedy in five days.
The funerals of fashion student Jessica Gallagher, 24, and Martin McGill, 49, took place in Creeslough on Tuesday, while a funeral mass for Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son , James Monaghan, took place on Wednesday afternoon. and the funeral of Sydney native James O’Flaherty, 48, was held in Derrybeg on Wednesday.
The funeral of shop worker and mother of four Martina Martin, 49, was held in Creeslough on Thursday morning, with a service for Leona Harper, 14, at St Mary’s Church in Ramelton later that day .
Irish police An Garda Siochana continue to investigate the cause of the explosion, which is being treated as an accident.
Updated: October 15, 2022, 2:40 p.m.