herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

'It hit us like a tsunami' ... community is united for vigil

tributes

relatives, friends, colleagues and fellow students of the young men and women who tragically lost their lives in Berkeley gathered at two ceremonies last night to pray for the victims and those still in hospital.

A Mass was held in St Mary's College, Rathmines for former students Eoghan Culligan and Nick Schuster.

The secondary school gym was packed and all there prayed for the 13 who fell from the apartment balcony.

Fr Michael Duggan, who led the service, said that this wasn't the way it was supposed to work.

"The natural order of life says that children should be the ones burying their parents. Now we're faced with parents having to bury their children," he said.

After the Mass, the choir completed a rendition of Hallelujah - but nobody moved to leave, everybody still in shock at the tragic death of their friends.

Meanwhile, there was a constant stream of people to the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock and Loretto College yesterday.

Two of the students who died were from the south Dublin area, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke (both 21), while another young woman from the parish, Aoife Beary, is in hospital.

Devastating

Parish curate Fr Frank Herron described the devastating impact of the tragedy on the local community.

"It hit us like a tsunami. The instant loss of such innocent lives, it's incomprehensible.

"The community has really come together to support one another during this time," Fr Herron said.

What was a scene of joyful graduation celebration just weeks ago was last night the setting for heartbreak as hundreds gathered in Loretto College.

Up to 800 mourners flocked to the school assembly hall.

Speaking at the heart-wrenching service Fr Herron remembered the graduation service he had celebrated just weeks earlier.

"That was a happy occasion," he said. "We were all here together in this very same room. We were surrounded with joy, laughter and music.

"Today there will be none, but one thing remains the same - and that is that we are here together."

Fr Herron told those gathered that the past two days had been extremely difficult for all involved, but reminded them that there were more tough days ahead.

"It is going to be difficult, but we can get through this together in the wake of this tragedy. That is what this is: an accident and a tragedy.

Young men and women comforted one another during the day as they remembered the deceased at the church, while candles were lit for those still battling for their lives in hospital.

Among those paying tribute was Dublin GAA star Jack McCaffrey, who was on the same UCD course as Eimear Walsh.

Lorcan Miller, who also died, was also studying medicine at the Dublin college.

Brightest

His secondary school paid tribute to him yesterday, describing the 21-year-old as "one of their brightest students".

Several vigils will also be held across the US, including in San Diego and Chicago.

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