Outpouring of grief at first Irish funerals of Berkeley victims
The first two funerals of the five Irish Berkeley victims are taking place in Dublin this morning.
Eoghan Culligan (21) and Eimear Walsh (21) were tragically killed when the balcony of an apartment in California collapsed last week.
The young students had been celebrating a friend's 21st birthday when the tragedy occurred.
Their families accompanied their remains as they travelled back to Ireland alongside two other victims of the incident, Lorcan Miller and Niccolai Schuster on Sunday morning.
The fifth Irish victim, Olivia Burke, arrived into Dublin airport a day later. The funeral of the sixth victim of the collapse, Olivia's cousin Ashley Donohue, was held at the weekend in her hometown in Sonoma County, California.
There was an outpouring of grief at the funeral of student Eoghan Culligan which took place at the Church of the Annunciation Rathfarnham this morning.
Under hot sun echoing Californian weather, a poignant guard of honour was formed outside the church by pupils from St Mary's in Rathmines, Eoghan's school and members from Ballyboden St Enda's, where Eoghan had been a valued team player.
His grieving parents Marie and Gerry and brothers Andrew and Stephen, followed by a stream of mourners silently and amid heavy grief accompanied the coffin on the short walk from the house.
There were well over a thousand there to remember the "popular and friendly" young student cut down in the prime of his life.
The devastatingly haunting song Forever Young was played as the coffin arrived at the church.
The President was represented by his ADC to President Lieutenant Colonel Kiernan, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his ADC Commandant Foley, while American Ambassador Kevin O’Malley and Minister Alex White – Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources were also in attendance.
The Chief Celebrant was Fr. Richard Olin of Mary’s College, Rathmines where Eoghan had been a former pupil.
Symbols of Eoghan’s life were brought to the altar by his friends from school, college and fellow football team mates, with a commentary read by his uncle Henry.
They included his grandfather's old watch - which Eoghan had fixed up and worn proudly, an Obey hat which had been a gift from his girlfriend Sarah and a staff from a production of his beloved Lord of the Rings.
Reflections were read by his parents Marie and Gerry and his girlfriend Sarah.
A reading from the book of wisdom told mourners that "length of days is not what makes age honourable, nor number of years the true measure of life; understanding, that is a man’s grey hairs, untarnished life, this is ripe old age".
His uncle Henry quoted: "This is not the end...death is a journey we must all make."
Also amongst the gifts brought up was an Ireland rugby jersey to symbolise his great love of rugby fostered at St Mary's and a Ballyboden St Enda's Jersey.
The Schuster family were there to offer support to the Culligan family.
Prayers said for the recovery of the injured students who still remain in hospitals in California.
On behalf of the parish, deepest sympathy was offered to the family.
Chief celebrant said the ordeal of the family echoed the journey of the Magi, "such a long journey," he said.
The J1 student who had been working in Berkeley for the summer had been studying logistics and supply chain management at DIT.
Media were kept outside the gates to facilitate the family's wish for privacy.
Meanwhile, the heartbroken dad of Eimear Walsh paid an emotional tribute to his daughter today at her funeral.
"Eimear was such a beautiful person, a wonderful daughter and sister," Jim Walsh told mourners at her funeral in Foxrock this morning.
The 21 year old medicine student lived her life in the moment, her dad said.
"We're very proud of who she was and what she achieved," he added.
His daughter was among many things "fun-loving, kind-hearted and independent".
"Eimear was deceptively easy going but she was very determined when she set her mind to something," he recalled.
The family were surprised when she chose a career in medicine over a career in theatrics he said but were not surprised when she knuckled down to get her grades in "typical Eimear fashion" he added.
The events of last week were "very traumatic" he said and added that arriving back home to Dublin was a relief.
Hundreds of people attended the Loreto College graduate's funeral this morning.