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Emotional scenes as two victims of Berkeley balcony collapse are laid to rest

By Ed Carty

Published 24/06/2015

Crowds of mourners gather at the funeral mass of Eimear Walsh, in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin
Crowds of mourners gather at the funeral mass of Eimear Walsh, in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin
Eimear Walsh
Crowds of mourners gather at the funeral mass of Eimear Walsh, in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin
Eoghan Culligan
Friends and family at the funeral of Berkeley tragedy victim Eoghan Culligan, at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham
Friends and family at the funeral of Berkeley tragedy victim Eoghan Culligan, at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham

Grief-stricken family and friends of two students killed in the US balcony collapse have endured emotional scenes at the funerals.

Parts of Rathfarnham and Foxrock in south Dublin came to a standstill as mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters joined clergy and friends from school and college to hear poignant reminders of young lives lost.

Eoghan Culligan (21), a student at Dublin Institute of Technology, was fondly remembered as Cully - a sentimental, funny and heart-warming young man with passions for rugby, Gaelic games, trendsetting and entertaining contradictions.

His uncle Henry recalled his love for Lord Of The Rings and quoted a line from the epic tale as gifts were displayed at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham to symbolise his life.

"The journey does not end here, death is just another path which we must all take," he said.

Among the symbols were Irish rugby and Dublin GAA jerseys, his under-13s schools rugby medal from Holy Ghost versus Willow, a Lord Of The Rings staff and ring, a collage of photos, his Obey hat and his Granda Joe's old watch which he had restored. Mourners heard how the last gift was a testament to the young student's sentimentality and good nature.

At the same time, less than seven miles away at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock, a priest who knew medical student Eimear Walsh for most of her life recalled how she had "come to perfection" in a short while.

"If we are sad today, there is also much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the life Eimear had, grateful for all the joy she brought into our lives," Fr Paul Ward said.

He paid tribute to her planned career in medicine. Prayers were said at both masses for the relatives and friends of others who died - Lorcan Miller, Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe, all aged 21.

The injured and their families and friends were also remembered, with special mentions for those who remain in the US and were watching the funeral services online.

The close connections between the J1 students who were caught up the accident in Berkeley, California, a week ago were laid bare.

US investigators confirmed that a balcony from which six students fell to their deaths collapsed due to dry rot.

The complex was only commissioned in 2007.

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