Saturday 16 December 2017

Hundreds line up to pay their respects to tragic students


A queue to sign the book of condolences for the victims of the Berkley balcony collapse tradgedy this morning at the Mansion House, Dublin
A queue to sign the book of condolences for the victims of the Berkley balcony collapse tradgedy this morning at the Mansion House, Dublin

HUNDREDS of people queued at the Mansion House in Dublin to add their signatures to the book of condolences for the students who lost their lives in Berkeley.

People young and old turned out to express their sympathies to the families affected by the tragedy.

Some left the foyer of the historic building with tears in their eyes.

James Doyle (22), from Tullamore, Co Offaly, said the tragedy hit home for him as he previously lived in Berkeley on a J1.

"I know exactly where it happened and it really could have been any one of us, so it struck a chord with me," he told the Herald.

His friend, Daniel McFadden (22), who is a recent Trinity College graduate, echoed his sentiments.

"I've been on a J1 and I can empathise with what it must be like for everyone to be away from home at a time like this," he said.

"I think it's important that all students continue to show solidarity with those in California."

For others in the line of sympathisers, the tragedy also hit close to home.

Teacher Frances Ward said the six young people who died were of the same generation as many of her students.

"It's horrendous. I think Enda Kenny summed it up when he said that you could see your own children when you looked at their faces in the paper," she said.

There was standing room only at a memorial for DIT student Eoghan Culligan at his college yesterday, where he was remembered as a young man who "always brought sunshine".

Classmates and lecturers of the 21-year-old, from Rathfarnham, gathered to remember the student who lost his life.


Berkeley Tragedy Victims' Fund

The Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre in San Francisco has set up an online account to raise funds for the students affected by this tragedy and to assist the immediate needs of their families.

Click here to make a donation to the fund

Paul O'Sullivan, the director of the School of Business where Eoghan was due to begin his final year, described the six students who died as "the flowers of their generation".

Eoghan was the "key man" in his college study groups, Mr O'Sullivan said.

"He was always positive, he always brought sunshine," he said.

"Even as a secondary school student, Eoghan was already volunteering in a nursing home."

Friends of the St Enda's Ballyboden GAA star broke down in tears as tributes to him poured in from his lecturers.

"He was big physically and his impact on you was also big," said Margaret Farrelly.

"In many ways he was the glue that made you fabulous."

She described her former student as "kind-hearted" with a "great sense of humour" who was much loved by students and staff.

Former DIT student Nick Schuster (21) was also remembered at the ceremony.

Pictures of the friends were shown on a screen during the service, with some drawing laughs from their grieving friends.

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