A butcher working in Creeslough shop during explosion speaks publicly for first time in TG4 documentary tonight.
Pádraig O’Donnell, 51, was working in Lafferty’s supermarket on October 7th last year when an explosion ripped through the Co. Donegal shop. He described the scene he witnessed as“nine-eleven or the Omagh bomb.”
Pádraig, a butcher working in the supermarket has given the first eyewitness account of what it was like inside to journalist Kevin Magee in new TG4 documentaryIniúchadh TG4 – An Craoslach which airs tonight Wednesday at 9:30pm on TG4.
He said:“It was like a scene from a horror movie. It was a Friday, and the place was very busy. I was just returning to the butcher counter when the next thing, bang. There was an explosion. It was very big and very loud. It was just unbelievable. It was a terrible scene.”
Although he suffered from shock himself, he managed to bring a pensioner who was standing amid the debris covered in dust out the back door of the building. The lady was one of the first people rescued.
“She was shocked and was very quiet, and we did not speak. Outside the shop there was just bricks and debris everywhere. I hadn’t an idea what had happened, it was a terrible scene.”
After leading the pensioner to safety, Mr O’Donnell went back inside to see if he could help others trapped in the rubble.“There were others in the shop and I had to go back inside to help whoever I could.”
Ten people lost their lives in the disaster in the Co. Donegal village. The victims were five year-old Shauna Flanagan Garwe, and her father Robert Garwe, 50, Leona Harper, 14, Hugh Kelly, 59, Jessica Gallagher, 24, Martin McGill, 49, James O’Flaherty, 48, Martina Martin, 49 Catherine O’Donnell, 39 and her 13 year-old son James Monaghan.
Mr O’ Donnell said: “I am one of the lucky ones. I am still alive but my life is different now. I am not able to sleep and I have nightmares. My heart is broken thinking about those who died. I can’t think about anything else. I pray for their souls. it’s not an experience you want to be in.”
Digger driver Henry Gallagher who worked at the scene of the tragedy also speaks publicly for the first time in the documentary. Mr Gallagher remained in the cab of his excavator for twenty-four hours removing rubble from the collapsed building until the last body was taken out.
He said in an interview “You just see a river of high vis vests (behind me) and I know that among that, there are families waiting on news. The only way that they are going to get the news of a loved one being taken out, is for me to get in.”
Lorry driver Colin Kilpatrick from Raphoe, Co Donegal who was making a delivery in Creeslough heard the explosion and was among the first rescuers at the garage forecourt where he managed to help free one of the injured by using a car jack to lift concrete slabs. “People got out and people didn’t get out, but what we done worked” he said.
The documentary Iniúchadh TG4 – An Craoslach which will be broadcast on TG4 tonight at at 9.30pm, focuses on the rescue effort carried out by ordinary people of Creeslough in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
The programme is the first in a new monthly series of current affairs and investigative documentaries that will be broadcast by TG4 this year examining the issues behind the headlines of current major Irish news stories.
The series is presented by award-winning Belfast-based investigative journalist Kevin Magee who previously worked as Investigations Correspondent at BBC Northern Ireland , and on its flagship current affairs programme Spotlight.
Mr Magee said: “At the time of tragic events in Creeslough , we all heard about the extraordinary bravery and courage of the first wave of rescuers, local people who ran to help their trapped neighbours at great risk to themselves before the emergency services arrived.”