Death makes no distinctions of time. But losing a loved one during a holiday period when celebrations are going on all around is particularly tragic. The parish of Donagh in North Monaghan is grieving the loss of 19 year-old student Jason McGovern from Knocknagrave, Tyadvnet (which happens to be the townland of my late father-in-law). PSNI detectives are carrying out an investigation following the incidents in Omagh early on New Year’s Eve morning which are thought to have led to the death of Jason from head injuries. Canon Macartan MacQuaid described Jason as a very caring and affable young man and said his family was struggling to cope with his death. As more details emerged surrounding the death of Jason, I thought about another New Year’s Eve tragedy that happened in the nearby parish of Tydavnet, when two young schoolgirls lost their lives in a drowning accident at a frozen Hollywood Lake near Scotstown. The news came through as I was about to join some Belfast neighbours at a New Year’s Eve party and next morning on New Year’s Day I was at the scene to watch the Garda operation as they searched for the two bodies in the frozen lake. The two who died were cousins, 12 year-old Louise McAloon from Hollywood and Veronica McAloon aged 10 from Aghabog. As I passed St Mary’s church at Urbleshanny, Scotstown, this afternoon I stopped briefly at the grave of the two girls, who were laid to rest beside each other twelve years ago on January 3rd 2001.
Rest in peace Louise & Veronica; sympathy also to the family and friends of Jason McGovern.