A candlelit vigil was held tonight in Buncrana to remember and to say goodbye to a kind and much-loved adventurer - Danielle McLaughlin.
The 28-year-old was murdered last week after she travelled to Goa, India
Danielle’s family used the moving ceremony, held at the Amazing Grace Viewing Platform on the Fishing Green, to call for justice for their daughter and sister.
One of Danielle’s younger sisters, Sian, who was accompanied by another sister Jolene, said her sister was always doing kind acts for others.
“Danielle was one of the kindest persons you could ever meet. She told me once that you could do a lot of acts of kindness but it is no longer an act of kindness if you tell someone.
“She was so giving even if she had very little to give. She will always be my role model because of her attitude to life. No matter how far away in the world she was, we knew we were never far away in her thoughts.
“Her smile touched so many lives and her hair shone brighter than the sun. She will be the brightest star in the sky forever. We will miss you as much as we love you the whole way around the world and back again,” her sister said.
Louise McMenamin, a close friend of Danielle’s said her friend just exuded everything that was positive about life.
“I cannot even begin to comprehend what happened to my friend Danielle or how she suffered in her final moments. It is something I keep thinking over and over in my head and I don’t think I will ever understand why – why this has happened to her.
“Danielle was one of the kindest and most caring people I knew. She had so much compassion and was filled with complete happiness. I used to love her coming through my door because her smile used to light up the whole room. She had such a positive energy about her that it made me feel better just by being in her presence.
“I do know that any other woman on this planet should not to have to die in fear like she did. This is where we have to stand together and show the world that we need justice for Danielle,” Louise said.
Although Danielle’s mother Andrea did not attend the ceremony, she issued a statement through a family friend.
The family said that the only small way in which they will find any comfort is if a full and open investigation into Danielle’s death is carried out.
The spokesman also confirmed that Danielle’s remains are to leave India tomorrow and could arrive in Ireland on Thursday or Friday.
A spokesman told mourners “We call for justice from the Indian legal system and appeal to the Indian authorities for a full, diligent, transparent and open investigation into all aspects of this crime and have real faith that with their help full justice will be served and the truth known which will provide some small comfort to the family.”
And he added “Words and thoughts can do little at a time like this to help us understand how such an awful tragedy can happen and especially to someone so full of life and love as Danielle.”
Mourners were presented with memorial cards in memory of Danielle while hundreds of candles were lit in her honour.
On the memorial cards were pictures of Danielle and some of her last words which she left on her Facebook account.
The message read “I am very grateful and the luckiest person I know….off on another adventure.”
Her former school principal at Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana, Mr Liam Rainey, described Danielle as a firecracker who always enjoyed herself and how she had enjoyed a ten-year reunion with former classmates last Christmas.
“She was a great student and I mean that in every aspect. She worked hard and got away to college but more importantly she was a great person who added considerably to the school life.
“Everyone knew Danielle and she got involved in everything and couldn’t say no. She always saw the glass half-full.
“She looked out for all the younger pupils in school and had that caring nature about her.
“She fizzed around the school and was a firecracker. I didn’t know half the stories that went on and I don’t need to know them.
“Her life was ahead of her. That enthusiasm is no longer with us and that fizzing firecracker has fizzled out but she will remind us of how fragile life can be,” he said.
Local band String Empire provided the music as mourners wiped away tears during the touching occasion.
Christy Duffy, a friend of Danielle’s who helped raise more than €40,000 through a fundraising campaign for her funeral, repatriation and legal costs, said everyone had gathered with one common goal.
“I’d just like to say it’s wonderful to have you all here, each I’m sure for your own different reasons, and each with different memories and stories of Danielle, but all I know with a common goal, the common goal of paying tribute to a friend, a relative, an acquaintance or maybe even to honour a stranger with whom you feel you have gotten to know from the outpouring of beautiful stories throughout this past week.
“So from all of us here and those spread all over the globe we send our thoughts and best wishes to Danielle’s immediate family at this trying time.
And we are here to say goodbye, goodbye to an eternal optimist, goodbye to a comedian, goodbye to an adventurer, goodbye to a beautiful soul, goodbye to our friend, Danielle. Although you have left our sight you will always live on in our hearts,” Christy said.
Local Sinn Fein Senator Padraig MacLochalinn said that like thousands of other young people around Ireland, Danielle had decided to emigrate to find a new life.
But he pleaded with the people of Buncrana and Inishowen and Donegal to comfort Danielle’s family but to find justice for her.
“There is going to be a justice campaign and there is going to be a need to watch proceedings in India to make sure we get justice and also in getting justice for Danielle we protect all women in that society and in other societies,” he said.