A “fantastic cross-community response” from the people of Inishowen helped to save this week’s Wedding Dress Festival at Christ Church, Buncrana from the effects of Tuesday’s flooding. Volunteers rallied to the aid of local minister, Rev Judi McGaffin, after floodwater began seeping into the church’s transept. Dresses first had to be removed from the church – for safekeeping – on Tuesday evening, then returned late on Wednesday, allowing the festival to open on schedule on Thursday morning.
“It’s been frenetic,” Rev McGaffin admitted, shortly after the opening. “People rallied round us brilliantly, and were so generous with their time and effort.”
The minister said she particularly feared for the well-being of the dresses, once floodwater began entering the building. “These dresses range from a few months old to more than 70 years of age. They are precious to the owners and we had an enormous responsibility to ensure that they were safe. We had to move fast to get them out of the church before any damage was done to them.”
At one point it was “touch and go” whether the festival – which had been months in the planning – would go ahead at all, but thanks to the response of the community in Buncrana the event opened as planned on Thursday morning.
“I can’t thank local people enough for their help,” Rev McGaffin said. “One passer-by called in. He said he worked with Donegal County Council. He saw that we needed sandbags – urgently – so he went and got them and delivered them, minimising the damage. A local businessman got in touch. When he heard that one of our display areas was badly affected by the flooding, he told us to have new wooden platforms built – at his expense. The generosity of these people has been remarkable and I can’t thank them enough.”
The minister said she and her parish team had wondered whether it would be right to proceed with the event at all, in view of the damage done to homes and businesses by Tuesday evening’s thunderstorms. But they were advised that an uplifting wedding dress festival might be just what the community needed in the aftermath of this week’s events.
The Bishop of Derry, Rt Rev Ken Good, visited Christ Church on Thursday morning to offer support and encouragement to Rev Judi and her parishioners.
The Wedding Dress Festival will run at Christ Church, Buncrana until Sunday. Dresses can be viewed between 10 a.am. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and between 2 and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, local people are invited to bring household items to the Church of Ireland church hall in the town between 3 and 5 p.m. These will then be distributed to households affected by this week’s flooding.