Foxrock in shock as six students die

by Gazette Reporter
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OUR Lady’s Church in Foxrock was the focal point for an outpouring of grief by the community, who came in their droves to pay their respects to the six students killed after they fell four floors when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California on June 16.
Three of the six students killed had attended UCD and one was a student, Olivia Burke at IADT.
Seven other students are still in hospital, some of whom are in a very serious condition.
Five who lost their lives were from south Dublin. Niccolai Schuster (21), Eoghan Culligan (21), Eimear Walsh (21), Olivia Burke (21) and Lorcan Miller (21) all died in the accident a week after arriving at Berkeley on J1 visas to work during the summer.
The sixth victim was Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22), who was a cousin of Olivia Burke.
Foxrock parish administrator Carol O’Kelly told The Gazette the parish decided to hold an impromptu vigil the same night as word reached them of the tragedy
She said: “Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke were very active members of the parish here.
“This [news] landed on our desks mid-afternoon [June 16], so we decided to organise a vigil for Wednesday week.”
“Then we said: ‘No, what we’re going to do is just open the doors’.
“So we opened the doors and rang the bells. I put out a series of Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, asking everybody to share them.
“Within less than an hour, the church was full. It was literally incredible, with cars lining up to come up Our Lady’s Church driveway. It was magnificent,” she said.
“Two of the girls’ very close friends played the guitar and the piano from 9pm until midnight. Our organist and violinist came about midnight and played until 1am.”
“We would like to express our deepest, profound sympathies to the families and friends. It was very noticeable last night that the church was packed with girls from 20 to 22, and they just looked lost.
“We want to thank those who made the vigil such a wonderful event. It was all very human,” said O’Kelly.
Father Frank Herron of Foxrock parish was with the families of those who died and those who were injured at Berkeley all that day.
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: “My heart breaks for the parents who lost children.”
UCD president Andrew Deeks said: “It is with deepest sadness that I speak of the tragic accident involving UCD students and their friends in San Francisco.
“On behalf of the entire university community, I wish to extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who died and to those who were injured.”
Marcus O’Halloran, president, UCD Students Union, said: “This is a tragic loss; it affects the entire student community and all families in this country.”
On behalf of IADT, president Dr Annie Doona expressed her deepest sympathies to the families of those who died and to the injured.
Ballyboden St Enda’s issued a statement, saying of club member Eoghan Culligan: “Eoghan was very popular with his team mates and this tragic news is keenly felt by all members of our club, but especially by those players and mentors who knew him well.
“We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his parents, Gerry and Marie, and to his brothers, Stephen and Andrew, and to all the extended Culligan family.”
Neither St Mary’s College nor Loreto College Foxrock, whose former pupils died in the tragic incident, had commented by the time of going to print as the news was still “too raw”, according to a Loreto College Foxrock spokesperson.
The injured students still in hospital in Berkeley are Hannah Waters, Clodagh Cogley, Niall Murray, Sean Fahey, Jack Halpin, Conor Flynn and Aoife Beary. Most of the students involved were from Terenure, Rathfarnham and Foxrock.

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