Pilgrim bishops’ tribute to Buncrana teenagers

Bishop Donal McKeown and Bishop Ken Good visit the Columban Cross marking Saint Columba's birthplace during their three-day Gartan to Londonderry pilgrimage. INLS 19-797-CON
Bishop Donal McKeown and Bishop Ken Good visit the Columban Cross marking Saint Columba's birthplace during their three-day Gartan to Londonderry pilgrimage. INLS 19-797-CON

The two teenagers who died in last weekend’s road tragedy in Inishowen have been remembered during a pilgrimage by two church leaders in the city.

The Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, and the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, completed a 34-mile-long walk from St Columba’s birthplace at Gartan, in Donegal, to St Augustine’s Church in Londonderry.

During the last service of their journey, they expressed sympathy with the families of Buncrana teenagers, Nathan Dixon-Gill (17) and Nathan Farrell (18) who were killed when the car they were travelling in was involved in a single-vehicle collision on the road between Quigley’s Point and Whitecastle in the early hours of Saturday.

They bishops undertook their joint pilgrimage to promote reconciliation in the community and highlight their shared Christian witness and Columban heritage. The final stage began in Burt on Saturday morning where a short, interdenominational service was held in St Aengus’ Church. With their ‘hi-vis’ vests, the clergymen had been highly visible on all three days of their pilgrimage, as they joined worshipping communities, spoke to passers-by and talked with schoolchildren.

They walked along the main road from St Columba’s birthplace in Gartan to Letterkenny (‘From Cross to Cross’), then from Letterkenny to Burt (‘From Church to Church’), and lastly from Burt to Londonderry (‘From Country to Town’).

In June, the two men will explore their Columban heritage further during a joint visit to the Scottish island of Iona, where St Columba founded a monastery in the mid-sixth century. And in September they will take part in two joint walks, from Limavady to Garvagh and from Claudy to Strabane. On the Gartan walk, the bishops wore teeshirts bearing the words: ‘St Columba – Charity & Peace.’ These referred to the saint’s last recorded words to his community on Iona: ‘Preserve with each other sincere charity and peace.’ The bishops have adopted the latter as the guiding theme for their pilgrimages.