Creeslough’s Six-Month Anniversary: Randomness Strikes Fear in the Hearts of Locals, But Brings Them Closer Together

"Grieving Community in Creeslough Strives to Move Forward While Honoring the Past Six Months After Devastating Explosion"

Creeslough Community Finds Strength in Togetherness Six Months After Devastating Explosion

Six months after the devastating explosion that killed ten people in Creeslough, the grieving community is trying to find a way to move forward while also respectfully remembering the past. The filling station and shop that was the hub of the community in the north Donegal town still lies in ruins behind a wooden hoarding since the blast ripped through it on October 7 last. The random nature of the blast, believed to have been caused by a gas leak which is still under investigation, stunned not only the local community but the whole of the country and farther afield. The youngest to die was only five years old. The oldest was in his late 50s. Men, women, and children from all corners of the community perished in the blast as they went about their daily lives. Those who died included a mother and son, and a father and daughter.

“It is a delicate and sensitive path to walk. Although the explosion was devastating to our community, it didn’t destroy our community spirit. And the feeling of togetherness that we have as a community is stronger than ever,” said Matthew Byrne of the Creeslough Community Association. “I think the frightening thing about what happened was it was so random. It could have been anyone. And we seem to all appreciate each other even more now.”

“There’s been a huge amount of goodwill demonstrated both within and outside of Creeslough. The whole country is supporting us, and we know that. We have more members now in the Creeslough Community Association than we ever had. The events that the association organised in terms of the turning-on of the Christmas lights, the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the opening of the memorial to pioneering computer programmer Kay McNulty, and local clean-ups were massively supported, but we are always mindful of the people who are not at these events,” he added.

“We’re trying to do all we can to try and support the people that we know are suffering hugely and not able to take part in some of the community activities. We see huge amounts of heartache and grief within the local community. We’re all trying to find a way forward through that grief, trying to see what’s the best way forward. And that will take a lot of consultation that has to be respectful to all members of the community. We’re thankful that Donegal County Council that are chairing the working group made up of lots of local people trying to find a path forward.”

The investigations into the cause of the blast are ongoing. Experts from abroad were brought in to assess the filling station, shop and apartments after the blast, and interviews with witnesses, survivors and locals, as well as CCTV footage, are also all being examined. Naturally, people will want answers as to what caused the blast, and all the while there seems to be a sense of quiet patience in the town about the process.

“People are so conscious of other people’s feelings. So even if they’re looking for answers themselves or want something to move quicker, people are going at other people’s pace, so however the slowest person wants to go that’s the pace we seem to be moving at,” Mr Byrne explained.

The Chairperson of the Creeslough Community Association, Majella McFadden, said people are still coming to terms with the blast, and probably will be for a long time. “I still feel there’s a horrible, empty feeling. There’s still this sense of disbelief. You pass by the site every day and it just hits you some days and you say ‘I can’t believe this happened’.”

“Our community was going so well. We were really making a name here. We were working so hard and we had great plans. I think there’s a sense now that Creeslough is remembered for all the wrong reasons. So we’re back at square one. But we’re determined to continue and keep going with our projects without forgetting.”

“There’s a sensitivity around it, surely. Up here it’s a constant reminder for families. And every event that we’ve had since, you don’t want to forget them. But you don’t want to continually bring this up and remind families of what’s happening. They’re already going through a lot.”

“We’re just in between those spaces. You don’t know what’s right and you don’t know what’s wrong these days, but we’re just trying to keep going,” she added.

Lorcan Roarty runs the Wild Atlantic Camp of holiday pods and camping facilities across the road from the site of the tragedy. He too praises the work of the Creeslough Community Association and the Creeslough Working group of which he is a member.

“Everybody in the town has different views on things and we all just have to be aware of other people’s feelings. We’ve had a group called Wave from Northern Ireland, who specialize in trauma counseling, offer their services. And the HSE have been great too with counseling,” he said.

“The Creeslough Working Group was tabled by Donegal County Council to give them feedback on what is needed for Creeslough from a healing perspective. And we’ve had two international companies specializing in urban and village renewal come on board and they will help deliver a plan for Creeslough.”

The community of Creeslough may have been rocked by the devastating explosion six months ago, but they are determined to come together and move forward with strength and resilience. The ongoing investigation into the cause of the blast may bring some closure, but it is the support and togetherness of the community that will help them heal and rebuild.

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