The remains of the late Nathan Dixon Gill being taken for burial
Young people in Donegal have been warned to treat life with caution at the funeral of one of the two young men who died in the county’s latest fatal road collision.
Hundreds of mourners packed into St Mary’s Church, Cockhill, Buncrana, for the funeral of Nathan Dixon-Gill, the 17-year-old who died in the fatal single-vehicle crash which took place between Moville and Quigley’s Point in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He died along with his friend Nathan Farrell (18) whose funeral is to take place in the same church today, Thursday.
The two men were killed in a single vehicle collision on the R238 at approximately 3.35 a.m.
Three other men also in the car were injured.
Two are being treated in Letterkenny University Hospital, while the third is being treated in Belfast.
Mementos of Nathan including his passport application form, his work helmet and jacket, and a montage of family photographs were presented before the Requiem Mass.
Nathan’s mother, Sinead, clutched a photograph of her and her son together.
She was joined in mourning by Nathan’s father Leonard; his stepfather Liam; Nathan’s grandparents and his young siblings, Erin, Padraigh and Cahir, who accompanied the coffin into the packed church.
Buncrana priest Fr John Walsh expressed “deep and sincere sympathies” to the family.
Fr Walsh said the community had been left shattered by the tragedy and there had been a massive outpouring of “love, solidarity and support” for Nathan’s family in the last few days.
He said Nathan was a superior young man who loved life - “a bubbly individual full of fun and life”.
“Nathan was a brother who was admired by his siblings. A friend who was loved by his peers.”
Nathan left school last June. He was due to take up a job in Scotland on Sunday and had planned a summer holiday with some of his friends.
Fr Walsh asked if Nathan would allow him to address the young people and “so many, young shocked and grieving friends” who were gathered in the church.
“May he allow me to say that you are not indestructible at the age of 17 or 18 or 19, or 15 or 16 for that matter,” he said.
“You are very fragile, all of us are. Life itself is fragile and we have to be careful, even wise, if we are to survive into adulthood and middle age and old age.”
He said there was no easy prescription or magic bullet for holding onto life.
“There’s no cutting of corners. Nothing is guaranteed in this world, but care and caution are a mighty help.”
He told the young people that he was not there to lecture them.
“I was your age, too, and I felt indestructible and even eternal, but none of us is. That’s the plain fact of life. So please, please live life on its terms, live life within its rules, with its caution; otherwise life will be pitiless towards you and the family and friends who have to come to this or another church to bear you to the grave.”
Fr Walsh went on to talk about his own experiences as young man 45 years ago in the months before he was ordained. He said he spoke from experience and authority as he lost a friend in a car crash in 1973 and he and fours friends were involved in a car crash returning to Maynooth from the funeral.
One of his friends spent the rest of his life paralysed from the chest down as a result of the crash.
“Dear young people. I know what I am talking about. Life is fragile.”