Creeslough explosion tribute released to mark anniversary

The parents of a teenage girl killed in the Creeslough explosion hope her memory will live on in a song released about their daughter this evening almost exactly a year after the disaster.

Leona Harper, 14, was one of 10 people killed in the explosion at a filling station in the Co Donegal village in October 2022.

She was the daughter of Hugh and Donna Harper and sister to Anthony and Jamie.

Speaking to UTV, Leona’s dad Hugh said every day without his only daughter is a struggle.

He added: “She meant everything to us. Every day is the same, not just the year anniversary. Not hearing her laugh, not seeing her smile. It’s hard.”

“It’s a year already,” said mum Donna, “sometimes you wonder where did that year go. It’s a daily struggle because you don’t have your little girl with you.”

The song is called Stolen Dreams.

The Harper family are sharing it on social media to raise funds for rescue charities who helped find and recover Leona and other victims.

Two of the charities, K9 Search and Rescue and SARDA Ireland North are based in Northern Ireland.

Donna Harper said they will never forget what they did.

She added: “If it wasn’t for them it might have been a longer wait. We did wait 24 hours for her but this is something very close to our hearts.”

The song was composed by Donegal-based musician Matt McGranaghan.

He was asked to write it by Anne Nicholls, the mother of one of Leona’s friends.

He spoke to Hugh and Donna and soon he realised what an exceptional young woman Leona was.

Leona Harper.

He said: “I wanted to create something that would be a song of hope, something that would really reflect Leona, a very brave and courageous young girl, who was artistic, funny, witty and very empathetic. That’s the story that should go out to the world.”

Donna said the song is made even more special because it includes a verse that had been written on a picture she and Leona bought together.

Hugh said Leona continues to give him the strength to carry on.

He added: “I have taken so much from her over the past 12 months. I try to carry myself everyday in a way that is fitting for her memory.”

The Harper family say they also hope Stolen Dreams can bring some comfort to other families who have lost a child.

The three charities supported by the song are SARDA Ireland North, K9 Search and Rescue and CRITICAL Emergency Medical Response.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.