The heartbroken mother of Creggan teenager Sean McNair, was yesterday preparing to bury her only son following the recovery of his body from Lough Swilly on Sunday.
The biggest search and recovery operation on Lough Swilly in recent memory was undertaken to find the missing 17-year-old.
The teenager’s body was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where a post mortem was carried out. His remains were scheduled to arrive at his home in Rinmore Drive at teatime yesterday.
A family friend earlier told the ‘Journal’ that Sean’s mother Jackie was “too emotional to speak” following the family’s eight day ordeal.
“She would like to thank everyone who helped her this past week but now she is just waiting on Sean’s remains to come home.”
Ms. McNair had maintained a constant vigil by Rathmullan Pier but returned to her Creggan home to make arrangements to bury her son.
Sean drowned after getting into difficulty when pier jumping with friends in Rathmullan. The teen had been celebrating an 18th birthday party with cousins, when tragedy struck.
The 17 year-old’s remains were recovered after an extensive search of Lough Swilly. Members of the Creggan, Buncrana and Rathmullan communities had joined with An Garda Siochana, Coastguard and dive teams from the Gardai, navy, True North, Inishowen and Sheephaven to search for him.
The largest search was held on Sunday and Derek Flanagan, Divisional Controller, Malin Head Coast Guard, said: “We had 29 vessels with 90 people on board conducting a surface search of the water, we had several dive teams and around 300 people searching the shoreline.
“A special thanks has to go to the Rathmullan community who were just incredible. They provided the food and accommodation for the diving teams who stayed locally.
“It was the biggest search of Lough Swilly in living memory.”
That search concluded at 2.30pm on Sunday when divers from the Dundalk Search and Recovery team located Sean 200 metres North West of Rathmullan Pier.
Creggan SDLP councillor Jim Clifford was in Rathmullan when the body was found and described the recover of Sean’s body as a “relief” to the family:
“It is a very sad and emotional time for the family but at the same time it was a great relief that he was found. Now they can bring his body home and lay him to rest in Derry.
“I was speaking to his mother and she praised the work of the Gardaí, the divers, and the local people from Derry and Donegal who helped out during the week.”
Creggan Sinn Féin councillor Kevin Campbell, who took part in the search for the teenager’s body, said: “This is obviously a very sad time for the family but hopefully they can now begin to get a sense of closure.”
Colr. Campbell also paid tribute to the response of the people of Creggan who travelled to Buncrana and Rathmullan to help locate Sean’s body.
Mark H. Durkan, SDLP MLA for Foyle said: “Even though the search is over, the family will still need a lot of support in the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead and I have no doubt the people of Creggan and beyond will be there to provide this.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.”
Requiem Mass for Sean will be held on Thursday at St. Mary’s Church, Creggan, followed by interment at the City Cemetery.
Sean is survived by his mother Jackie and sisters Rachel and Taylor.