Donegal father and son buried together after suspected murder-suicide

A large crowd gathered outside the cathedral in Letterkenny to say a final goodbye to the men who died in tragic circumstances last week
Donegal father and son buried together after suspected murder-suicide

Stephen Maguire

A priest has paid tribute to the family of a Co Donegal father and son who died in a suspected murder-suicide for putting love before their search for justice.

Fr Kevin Gillespie spoke at the joint funerals of Daniel and Damien Duffy which took place at St Eunan's Cathedral in Letterkenny on Monday.

A large crowd gathered outside the cathedral to say a final goodbye to the men who died in tragic circumstances at their home at Windy Hall on Thursday last week.

Gardaí are working on the theory that Damien (50) smothered his father, Daniel (88), before taking his own life in his car at the rear of the bungalow home they shared.

Fr Gillespie paid tribute to the remaining members of the Duffy family for the manner in which they approached recent days.

He said: “It was a profound love with which you, the family, have approached the last few days.”

He spoke about how their “deep Christian faith” allowed them to approach it “with equanimity, in a measured fashion, with deep respect and with courage and strength.”

He added: “It has transformed the moment into one which, away from unwanted attention, has been lived with the light of love winning out over the instinct for justice."

The coffins of both men rested side-by-side at the top of the cathedral with pictures of each resting beside bouquets of simple white lilies.

The remains of both men had reposed overnight at St Eunan's Cathedral before the funeral mass.

Neighbours and friends were able to pay their respects to Daniel and Damien after their remains reposed at The Eternal Light Chapel of Rest in Letterkenny on St Stephen's Day.

From there they were taken to St Eunan's Cathedral taking a detour to stop outside the home the men shared for some 50 years at Windyhall where their remains were found last week.

Among the mourners were daughters and sisters Ann-Marie Giles and husband Eamon, Jacqueline McCready and husband George, sister-in-law Sandra and brother-in-law Noel, nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

The men were predeceased by wife and mother Christine, daughter and sister Caroline Callaghan and brother Alan Graham.

Fr Gillespie, who was assisted by Fr Michael Carney, quoted Gerard Manley Hopkins including the poem 'No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief.'

He paid tribute to both men who had worked for the ESB.

A guard of honour from former work colleagues waited outside the cathedral.

'Great storyteller'

Fr Gillespie spoke of the welcome Dan Duffy always afforded visitors, recalling him as a great storyteller and man of great intelligence.

He said both men were so close in all they did, which made what happened all the more difficult to "understand or accept."

He said: “Dan Duffy was so much loved as a father, as a friend and as a neighbour. He loved people and he loved company.

"Time and again, it was said if you called to Duffy's for a brief visit, you always stayed longer than intended. Even if you refused the tea, it was placed before you anyway. You would enjoy his storytelling with that great wit.

“His tremendous wit and neighbourliness drew people to him. His great intelligence and his great practical and electrical know-how meant that he was the first port of call for repairs and conundrums of any kind.

"It was a quality shared by Damien, and Dan took great pride in Damien’s ability. They were always together, from Damien’s childhood right up to their untimely and unimagined end.

"Daniel and Damien did everything together. They were, lifelong, a great team and it makes what has happened all the harder to understand or to accept."

He added that Daniel simply loved Christmas and loved having his own family around in huge numbers for Christmas dinner.

“His heart was open, full of joy, with tremendous generosity. He was a man who loved to be able to give and provide for his family."

From 15 to 65, he worked in the ESB and was instrumental with introducing rural electrification, including helping to bring electricity to Arranmore island.

He said Damien was also blessed with great intelligence and had recently been conferred with an honours degree in Computer Science.

The remains of both men were led from the church as a grandson of Mr Duffy Snr held the pictures of the deceased.

A single floral tribute with the word 'Papa' sat solemnly in Mr Duffy Snr's hearse.

The funeral cortege made its way to the village of Ramelton from where Mr Duffy Snr and his wife Christine, who died in 2009, were originally from.

They were buried in the family plot at St Mary's Cemetery, Ramelton.

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