herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Olivia the last Berkeley student to come home as funerals begin

respects

The remains of Olivia Burke, one of the victims of last week's balcony collapse in Berkeley in which six students died arrives at the Fanagans Funeral home on Aungier Street, Dublin
The remains of Olivia Burke, one of the victims of last week's balcony collapse in Berkeley in which six students died arrives at the Fanagans Funeral home on Aungier Street, Dublin
Friends console each other outside Fanagan's Funeral Home, Dundrum this afternoon where the remains of Berkeley balcony collapse victim, Eimear Walsh are reposing prior to her funeral mass which will take place at in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock in Dublin tomorrow
Friends console each other outside Fanagan's Funeral Home, Dundrum this afternoon where the remains of Berkeley balcony collapse victim, Eimear Walsh are reposing prior to her funeral mass which will take place at in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock in Dublin
Olivia Burke

THE remains of Olivia Burke were the last to arrive home on Irish soil after the Berkeley balcony collapse.

Olivia was accompanied on her final journey from San Francisco by a dozen family members.

A sombre group of over 30 friends who had been at the fateful party that night also came home on the same Aer Lingus flight, their summer of California dreaming irretrievably shattered.

The unfamiliar-looking silver American casket containing Olivia's remains was taken to Fanagans Funeral Home on Aungier St, where mourners gathered for the sad process of saying goodbye.

After a double funeral with her beloved cousin, Ashley Donohoe, in California on Saturday, another funeral mass for Olivia will be held tomorrow at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock at 11am, followed by burial at Deansgrange cemetery.

The 21-year-old student's remains were driven over the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco airport at 11.45am local time on Sunday.

Two police vehicles escorted the beloved student's body on the journey from the mortuary near Sonoma where her funeral was held on Saturday morning.

A total of eight San Francisco police motorcyclists cleared traffic on the motorway to ensure that her trip back to Ireland was not delayed.

Her heartbroken father Paul, mother Paula and brother Gavin were driven by bus to the airport. Olivia was remembered as a much-loved student at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).

She had completed a five-month placement at East Coast Radio recently, where colleagues praised her as a "bright, bubbly, young kid".

The radio station said she had "excelled hugely and demonstrated a great appetite for the business world.

Olivia Burke
Olivia Burke

"For a girl of just 21 she showed massive potential for a bright and fruitful career in media," her colleagues said.

They had placed a single red rose on the desk where she had sat in the Bray radio studios as a solitary, poignant tribute.

The Foxrock woman was due back at the south Dublin college in September to start her final year of a degree in entrepreneurship and management.

Tributes to Olivia during the funeral mass in California revealed how her father Paul had fondly described her as someone who "enjoyed the craic."

Chief Celebrant Daniel Whelton said Olivia was a very kind person.

"She was a caring person with a great smile, she was always willing to help and was concerned more about others than herself. She was not 'me, me, me'. Her father said Olivia had a great work ethic, she was diligent and fun-loving."

Mourners will gather today for the funeral of Eoghan Culligan at the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham at 11am.

The funeral of Eimear Walsh will also take place today at 11am in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock which will be followed by burial at Shanganagh Cemetery.

Tomorrow, the funeral of Niccolai Schuster will take place at 11am at the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar and then to the crematorium at Mount Jerome, Harold's Cross.

Funeral details have also been announced for Lorcan Miller, taking place on Thursday at 11am in Rathmichael Parish Church, Shankill.

Burial will take place privately at the request of his family.

The family have requested donations to the Irish Cancer Society in lieu of flowers.

It has been arranged that a government minister will attend each funeral, in a symbol of national support and sympathy of the Irish people.

The coffins that held the remains of Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan and Eimear Walsh were brought home on Sunday, accompanied by their grieving relatives, on board Aer Lingus flight EI 146, direct from San Francisco.

Meanwhile a local filmmaker in Berkeley took to social media to say how he had never seen the city impacted by a tragedy of this magnitude.

He revealed how he had heard a passing child complain to his mother that the sidewalk on Kitteridge street was blocked.

Gently the mother had told her young son: "Listen, you need to have respect. This is a sacred space, okay? Sacred."

The filmmaker, who didn't want to give his name, said Berkeley's new bond with Ireland is: "profound. Eternal."

"I'll never comprehend this loss, what the families and friends are going through or how this could happen in my town," he said.

It has emerged that the Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund, set up by the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center in San Francisco following the balcony collapse, has raised more than €176,870 in online donations.

A book of condolence opened by University College Dublin has been signed more than 20,000 times, and will remain open until Friday.

Copies of the book of condolence which opened at the Mansion House in Dublin last week are due to be presented to the families by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke in a private meeting.

At Cork City Hall the book of condolence will be open during business hours until July 1. Cork County Council held a minute's silence for the victims. at a meeting yesterday.

A book is also available until 4pm each day this week at Galway City Council's offices and a book at Belfast City Council will remain open until after the funerals.

Books of Condolence also remain open across California as residents continue to attempt to make sense of the tragedy.

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