A guard of honour at the funeral of Shaun Harkin in Gortahork on Thursday morning
The people of west Donegal and the families of those killed in last Sunday night’s fatal road collision have been engulfed by love and support, Fr. Sean Ó Gallchóir told mourners at the funeral Mass of Shaun Harkin on Thursday morning.
Mr Harkin (22), from Killult, Falcarragh was one of four young men who lost their lives in what Fr Ó Gallchóir said was the biggest single tragedy to ever hit the area.
The funerals of Mícheál Roarty, John Harley and Daniel Scott are also taking place on Thursday.
Mr Harkin’s funeral at Christ the King Church in Gortahork was the first of the four to take place.
The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop of Raphoe, Alan McGuckian SJ, Fr Martin Doogan, Fr Kevin Gillespie, Fr Seamus Gillespie and Fr Martin Collum.
The packed church heard Fr Ó Gallchóir speak about the fragility of life. He said the people of the area were devastated, in sorrow and beyond grief.
He noted how many friends of the deceased, who had been home for Christmas, traveled home to Donegal to pay their respects and attend the funerals this week. That, he said, showed the respect and love they had for their friends.
Fr Ó Gallchóir said there was love and support for the families and friends of Shaun Harkin and the other three men who lost their lives. “Their dreams, the plans and the long road ahead of them are now gone,” he said.
He recalled that Shaun Harkin had been baptised in the church in April, 1996, and made his communion in the church in 2004 and made his confirmation in the Gortahork-based Church in 2008.
Shaun spent six years as an altar boy and didn't stop his duties at the church until the garments he wore as an altar boy would no longer fit him.
After that Shaun spent many long evenings, working on behalf of the church and delivering church packages to homes throughout his parish.
He was social and outgoing and spent time with all those he visited. People enjoyed seeing Shaun driving to their homes.
On Saturday nights, Shaun would attend 7pm Mass and collect the offerings - his devotion to the church was apparent.
Father Ó'Gallchóir said that his time and his work was very much appreciated.
"He was loyal to God and we hope that God will now welcome him into heaven."
Shaun attended that national school in Gortahork before attendeing secondary school in Cloich Cheann Fhaola for five years. His subsequent education brought him to the LYIT. He later went to Glasgow to work and came home to work as an apprentice electrician for Paul Roarty.
Value of life
Father Ó'Gallchóir reminded the congregation that life is precious and that we should all care for our life and eachother's life.
"We saw how valuable the gift of life is this week. The tragedy reminded us, once again, of the value of life," he said.
He said that the recent tragedy had a huge impact on families and communities in the region.
Thousands had attended the wakes of the young men in snow, sleet and ice.
The Gortahork-based priest said that messages from condolences had been received from across the country.
Father Ó'Gallchóir said that eight men from the area had returned from Australia for the funerals despite the fact that many had only returned to the continent after their Christmas holidays at home.
He thanked these young men for their offering that their act was testament to the great love and respect they had for their friends.
He described Shaun's friends as being his second family.
Members of CLG Chloich Cheann Fhaola, Glenea United FC and pupils from the local schools formed a guard of honour outside the church.