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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 8 December 2021

Donegal community pays tribute to three 'incredible', 'caring' women

Margaret McGonagle, Mairead Mundy and Racheal Battles were killed in a road crash on Friday morning.

An absolutely incredible woman.
A real home-bird.
A friend for life.

THIS IS HOW people who knew Margaret McGonagle, Mairead Mundy and Racheal Battles described them today as they were laid to rest in Donegal.

The three women were killed in a car crash in the early hours of Friday morning at Ardee in Co Louth.

The joint funeral of 69-year-old Margaret and her daughter Mairead (39) took place at the Church of Saint Joseph and Saint Conal in Bruckless this morning.

The congregation was told of how Margaret, a counsellor, was to the fore of setting up Donegal Rape Crisis and she helped many people with their trauma. Fr James Sweeney read out a tribute from one of her clients:

Mags, I don’t know where to start, how to express how grateful I am to you. I have battled with my mental health for many years and thought it was something I would just have to accept to live with, that was until I met you. You have changed my life completely, saved me as a person.
You are an incredible woman. Absolutely amazing at what you do.
It’s a pleasure to have met you and I have enjoyed every second. You have inspired me so much and helped me to smile again. I will be forever grateful, you’ve been my butterfly. (I say a butterfly is an angel helping you find your way) Thank you so much for everything.
I will never forget you.

‘Much loved’

Her daughter Mairead was described as “a real home-bird”. When she was 18, she moved to nearby Glenties, but after three days, “returned home to Mammy homesick”.

She was a champion Irish dancer and performed in both the Ulster and All-Ireland competitions. She married her husband Declan in 2002 and they had a baby boy, Caoimhin. Declan passed away in 2009.

Mairead had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary with her second husband Pauric, when her life was cut short by the crash last week.

“Mairead was much loved by many people, especially by Caoimhin, Pauric, her family and her friends.  Mairead will be sorely missed in all our hearts,” Fr Sweeney said.

‘A friend for life’

Just over three hours later, tributes were paid to Margaret and Mairead’s friend Racheal, who was also killed in the crash.

“From the first time you met Racheal, you knew you had a friend for life,” Fr Sweeney told the congregation.

Racheal had worked as a barmaid in Killybegs and here she met “the love of her life”, her husband Martin, who she had four children with.

“Racheal enjoyed her comforts: sleep, pyjamas and most importantly, her snugglers,” the priest said. “Racheal’s caring nature led her into the caring profession where she began caring for those in need in the local community.”

Racheal and Martin’s home was always a welcoming place – a hub of life – full of people, as she was always there for others to give advice and help and to make them smile and laugh again.

‘A sense of shock’

Sweeney said this tragedy has devastated the community and that a sense of shock now permeates the parish, and the entire country.

Death is always difficult to deal with but tragic death leaves us all with a very acute pain.
This sense of loss can almost be overwhelming and indeed very difficult for the human heart and mind to comprehend.

The parish, he said, has rallied together to support all of the families involved, and that community spirit has brought them all together.

“This tragedy has reminded us of the goodness and kindness and generosity of this rural community here in south Donegal.”

- With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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