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Balcony victim Lorcan laid to rest

Published 25/06/2015

The funeral of Lorcan Miller takes place at Rathmichael Parish Church
The funeral of Lorcan Miller takes place at Rathmichael Parish Church

The last of the Berkeley balcony collapse victims to be laid to rest sent a postcard to his little brother and two young sisters days before the tragedy, telling them how much he loved and missed them.

Popular medical undergraduate Lorcan Miller, 21, was remembered at his funeral as an incredibly positive and outgoing student who loved life, adored his family and who was idolised by them.

In a heart-wrenching reflection, his grief-stricken father Ken said a postcard from his eldest boy arrived in the post on Tuesday, addressed to his much younger siblings Jamie, Lucy and Poppy.

Next to the message he doodled a little matchstick portrait of himself in his new work uniform.

In it, he wrote: "Hi guys, I just want to send you a postcard to show you where I am working this summer. Bubba Gumps is a restaurant based on the film Forrest Gump, you should watch it with mum and dad.

"All the food and drinks have really funny names and are based on the characters of the film. Best of all they have lots of prawns, although Americans call them shrimp."

He continued: "As part of my job I have to talk to customers and I always tell them about my amazing brother and sisters and how much I miss them. I hope you are having lots of fun like me and being good.

"I'll see you soon, lots and lots and lots of love as always, Lorcan."

The postcard was "signed off with 12 kisses", his father told hundreds of mourners, who filled up and spilled out onto the grounds of Rathmichael Parish Church on the outskirts of the Irish capital.

Members of the University College Dublin - where he was studying - and Bray hockey clubs formed a guard of honour as his remains arrived for the poignant service, which had to be broadcast on speakers outside for the overspill.

Mr Miller said he and his heartbroken wife Sinead have been truly humbled by the support they have been offered since they learned of the death of their son.

They praised the strength of the other students who were in the US on a J1 working visa for the summer "as they also grieve for their six friends and continue to worry about those still in hospital."

Of the tributes that flooded in about their son, he said: "As we read though them, both of us have been in floods of tears, but we swell with pride to see just how embraced and loved he was by a huge amount of different groups."

Mr Miller said his son was an extrovert who loved music and sports, particularly tennis and hockey. They had been especially proud when he followed them into Railway Hockey Club and later Bray Hockey Club.

"He was incredibly positive and threw everything he had into everything he did, from academics to sport to even the dedication to learning the cocktails for his new job in Bubba Gumps restaurant," he said.

"I have no doubt that this part of his study entailed sampling his creations."

Mr Miller said music was incredibly important to Lorcan, having learned to play the piano in primary school, and he "took great solace in sitting at the piano and learning some songs when he was taking a break from study or just was a little low".

"He was very sociable and had an incredible ability to associate with people of all ages and was as happy to sit having a chat with his grandparents as he was spending time with his brothers and sisters or going out with his friends," he said.

The student's grandparents and godparents were among the chief mourners.

"He had become a natural leader: deputy head boy in St Andrew's College; class representative on the UCD students union council for the last three years; recently nominated as club secretary in UCD hockey club; and a member of the executive committee of the Medical Student Journal," said Mr Miller.

His parents said they also remembered him as a boy, "his stupid hats, his giraffe onesie, thumb-sucking" as well as "his low rider trike", his "pouting selfies" and his love of everything Harry Potter.

He was creative, always making personal cards for people to mark events.

Mr Miller choked back tears as he joked about the "boy stench of his runners" which were not allowed in the house, and which they sensed straight away when they visited the apartment he was staying at in Berkeley when they went to collect his body.

"He adored his family, he loved to spend time with all of them and was idolised by all," he said.

After the touching reflection, Lorcan's friends Eithne Nic an Riogh, Oisin Friel, James Aherne and Cillian Copeland played a rendition of Coldplay's Fix You.

The service was led by Canon David Moynan.

Tanaiste Joan Burton, US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson were also in attendance.

Lorcan is the last of the six students - five Irish and one Irish-American, from California - to be laid to rest.

They plunged to their deaths at a 21st birthday party in the college city of Berkeley on June 16 when the fourth-floor balcony of an apartment they were standing on gave way and collapsed.

An official investigation has found the wooden beams holding up the balcony had been badly rotted by water damage.

One of the surviving seven, who were seriously injured in the incident, has taken to Facebook from hospital to say she wanted to honour those who died by "living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible".

Clodagh Cogley, who fears she may never walk again, said: "The thing I'm taking from this tragedy is that life is short and I intend to honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible.

"Enjoy a good dance and the feeling of grass beneath your feet like it's the last time because in this crazy world you never know when it might be."

Ms Cogley said she has suffered two collapsed lungs, a broken shoulder, a broken knee, five broken ribs and a broken spinal cord.

She said "the chances of me using my legs again are pretty bleak".

"Not the best odds but I'm moving to a great rehabilitation centre here in San Francisco for two months (it has dog therapy) and intend to give it everything I've got," she posted on the social networking website.

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