Saturday 18 November 2017

Berkeley tragedy: Moving tribute for brother Eoghan Culligan (21) who was 'weird and wonderful'


Family and friends walk with the remains of Berkeley tragedy victim Eoghan Culligan arrive for his funeral at The Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Family and friends walk with the remains of Berkeley tragedy victim Eoghan Culligan arrive for his funeral at The Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Family and friends walk with the remains of Berkeley victim Eoghan Culligan. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Eoghan Culligan

HE was the light of his parents' lives, the peacemaker who settled his brothers' petty arguments and he was the boyfriend who told his girlfriend how they were put on this Earth to be together.

As mourners gathered at the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham to pay a final farewell to Eoghan Culligan (21) his grieving family painted a poignant picture of how deeply he will be missed.

Stephen and Andy Culligan paid tribute to the brother who they said may have been younger, but was "bigger and wiser". He would frequently make them see how ridiculous their brotherly disputes were, said Stephen.

"He was a mass of weird and wonderful, kind contradictions," he said.

Eoghan was a leader and a trendsetter, but could never go too far without asking the advice of Andy, his girlfriend Sarah McCarthy - and especially his mum.

In a poignant address to his brother, Stephen said he wished they had more time together.

Silence fell as Andy told mourners how he had somehow always felt "I'd be up here for Eoghan's wedding".

He said he had plenty of stories that would only have been appropriate for a Best Man's speech.


He paid tribute to his brother as "just mad, just absolutely mad in such a loveable way you can't imagine".

"He was weird and wonderful - that's the type of bloke he was," said Andy.

He told how Eoghan would always arrive into the family home and greet his mother with a big kiss and comically bellow 'Hello papa!' at his father.

Over 1,000 mourners gathered to bid a sorrowful farewell to the "weird and wonderful Cullie".

The J1 student, who had been working in Berkeley for the summer, had been studying logistics and supply chain management at DIT.

A guard of honour was formed outside the church by pupils from St Mary's in Rathmines, Eoghan's old school, alongside members from Ballyboden St Enda's, where he had been a valued team player.

Eoghan's grieving parents, Marie and Gerry, and brothers Andy and Stephen and girlfriend Sarah walked silently amid heavy grief as they accompanied the coffin the short distance from the family home.

The family of Niccolai Schuster, who also died in the balcony collapse, were there, along with several students who had attended the party on that fateful night in Berkeley.

The church was unable to accommodate all who came to pay their respects.

Perhaps the most poignant among numerous deeply afflicting moments was when chief celebrant Fr Richard Olin, of St Mary's College, told how the family had gathered around the body earlier in the day and were struck by how someone once so active could now be so still.

The music at the service was a nod to Eoghan's hipster vibe - with Green Day and Alphaville's Forever Young being played.

President Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were represented by their aides-de-camp, while American ambassador Kevin O'Malley and Minister for Communications Alex White were also there.


Symbols of Eoghan's life brought to the altar by his friends from school, college and football team-mates, with a commentary read by his uncle Henry. There was an Ireland rugby jersey to symbolise his love of the game fostered by St Mary's, a signed GAA jersey to reflect his love of Gaelic Games and his time at Ballyboden St Enda's.

Someone had the idea of making a collage of photographs of Eoghan, but such was the volume of happy and memorably images that two collages were brought up to the altar.

Also brought up was his grandfather's watch - which Eoghan had fixed and worn proudly - and his favourite 'Obey' hat, a gift from girlfriend Sarah. A staff from a production of the Lord of the Rings, one of Eoghan's favourite movies, was was also brought up.

Eoghan's uncle Henry quoted a line from the movie. "The journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take," he said.

Eoghan's father, Gerry told mourners: "We are all heartbroken". His mother Marie wept as she read: "Our hearts are broken, but our love will remain intact until the day we die."

There was emotional applause in the church after Eoghan's girlfriend Sarah read a poem she had written.

Among the many, many things she would miss about him would be his "little button nose and his hipster clothes".

"My soulmate was taken, but I know you will live on in my heart every day and that you will guide me every step of the way," she said.

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