herald

Saturday 19 August 2017

Sean was a 'devoted father and husband' who 'idolised his children', says distraught brother

Sean McGrotty who died in the Buncrana tragedy
Sean McGrotty who died in the Buncrana tragedy

Sean McGrotty, who died along with his two sons, mother-in-law and sister-in-law, has been described as a "devoted father" who "idolised his children".

Mr McGrotty's brother Tommy (60) said he had read a Facebook post about the tragedy on Sunday night without realising it was his own relatives involved.

Speaking at the family home in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry, he said: "I thought to myself, 'Somebody's going to get a bad knock at the door tonight'. Just at that minute my phone rang and it was a nephew of mine.

"He said to me, 'You need to get up to my da's house straight away'.

"I went up there thinking it was nothing serious. He told me on the way up that it was more serious, that there was deaths and the car had went over the pier."

Sean McGrotty's partner, Louise James, returned from a family event in England on Sunday night to be told that Sean, her two sons, her mother and her sister had died in the tragedy.

She was being comforted last night by family and friends.

Local parish priest Fr Paddy O'Kane visited the family home at St Eithne's Park yesterday and said they were inconsolable.

"Louise said to me, 'I have lost everyone, except little Rionaghac-Ann'. She said, 'Rionaghac-Ann is my reason to go on'," he said.

Victims

The bodies of the five victims will be taken to Ms James' home in Derry later today.

Their funerals will take place on Thursday at 2pm from the Holy Family parish church in Ballyma- groarty.

Mr McGrotty said it was not the first time Ms James had been faced with "unimaginable tragedy".

"She lost a baby in childbirth a few years ago. It was around 10 years ago. She was absolutely devastated by that," he said.

"It was a wee girl as well, so she was really excited when she had Rioghnach-Ann."

Mr McGrotty also revealed that it was the second tragedy to hit his own family in the past 12 months.

His sister, Ann McColgan, died last July of cancer.

Jim McGrotty, another brother, said Sean "was the most devoted of fathers and husbands. He idolised his children".

"On behalf of the family we want to thank that brave man who swam into the sea and who saved the life of Louise's baby Rionaghac-Ann, who is only four-months-old," he said.

"We have since found out that Sean handed his baby daughter out of the window of the car into the arms of the brave man who dived in to help just seconds before the car sank.

"There has been a constant stream of callers arriving at the house since word of who was involved has become public.

"We are all numbed by this tragedy. If there is anything good which has come out of it, it is the fact that baby Rioghnach-Ann has been saved."

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