Finn Valley College will be open this afternoon for parents to meet with professional support staff, following the tragic, sudden death of a 13-year-old college student on the weekend.
“We wish to offer condolences of staff and students to the family of the late Erin Gallagher, who died tragically on Saturday,” Finn Valley College Principal, Frank Dooley, told the Democrat/Donegal People’s Press yesterday evening.
Mr. Dooley said Erin, a second-year student, “was a pleasant student in class who got on with her classwork and school work, and we’re deeply upset that her life has ended so early”.
Erin (pictured) was remembered in prayers at mass at St. Mary’s Church in Ballybofey on Sunday morning and a Facebook page was created in her memory yesterday, with people describing her as a “beautiful wee angel” and a beautiful young girl. More than 1,700 people had “liked” the page by the time of going to press yesterday.
“We have been in contact with all of the parents and we have been advising them as to how they should counsel their children at this tragic time,” Mr. Dooley said. He said school officials also met yesterday with Department of Education and Health Service Executive officials and put a plan together, “as how we can deal with the care needs of our students in the coming weeks.”
The principal said the Stranorlar school will be open from 3 to 5pm today for parents “who feel they need assistance in caring for their teenage children at this time, to come and meet with professional support staff”.
He said, “I would ask parents at this time to counsel their children to be respectful and truthful in all of their communications over the internet and all social media.”
Some of the comments posted to Erin’s tribute page on Facebook suggested that Erin had experienced problems with bullying on a social networking site.
Local Fianna Fáil Cllr. Patrick McGowan, chairperson of the Finn Valley College board of management, said the whole community was in deep shock over Erin’s tragic death.
“Our thoughts go out to her family and relations, her school friends and all the young people in the area,” Cllr. McGowan said, calling it “a time for everybody to come together, especially parents, and make sure they know their own children are managing to deal with their sadness in a proper way”.
A garda spokesperson said they were treating as a personal tragedy incident the death of a 13-year-old girl at a house in Ballybofey. The spokesperson confirmed her body had been taken to Letterkenny General Hospital for a post-mortem exam on the instructions of the coroner.