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Priest from Banbridge comforts victims of Berkelely balcony disaster

By Joanne Fleming

Published 18/06/2015

Two students comfort each other at the scene of the Berkeley balcony collapse
Two students comfort each other at the scene of the Berkeley balcony collapse
Mourners cry as the caskets of cousins Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are placed in hearses following services at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif. on Saturday, June 20, 2015. Olivia, an Irish national and Ashley, an American, died with others while celebrating a birthday when a balcony collapsed at a Berkeley, Calif. apartment complex on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The flag of St Mary's College in Rathmines is carried during the funeral of Niccolai Schuster at The Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. He died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh attends the funeral of Niccolai Schuster at The Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. He died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Olivia Burke arrives at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Singer Hozier at the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, where he was due to perform at the funeral service of Olivia Burke. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 24, 2015. She died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners leave after the funeral of Eimear Walsh at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after his funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh leaves Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, after her funeral service. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. Eimar died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh arrives at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for her funeral after she died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners gather at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for the funeral of Eimear Walsh who died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Mourners gather at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for the funeral of Eimear Walsh who died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eimear Walsh arrives at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, Dublin, for his funeral after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The coffin of Eoghan Culligan is carried during his funeral at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Paul Burke places items on top of his daughter's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
The Burke family from right, father Paul, mother Paula and brother Gavin look on during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Monsignor Dan Whelton gives his condolences to the Burke family from right, father Paul and mother Paula Burke and brother Gavin Burke during funeral services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Ashley Donohoe looks at her sister's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Friends and family gather for a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Olivia Burke's brother Gavin Burke holds consoles his mother Paula Burke as Paul burke looks on during a service for Olivia and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Olivia Donohoe's brother Gavin Burke, left, stands with his parents Paul Burke and Paula Burke as they watch a funeral worker tend to the casket of Ashley Donohoe, following services for Donohoe, 22, and Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers, including Ashley Donohoe's father George Donohoe, right, carry her casket to a waiting hearse following services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers, including Olivia Burke's brother Gavin Burke, left, wheel out her casket following services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
From left, parents George and Jackie Donohoe with their daughter Amanda Donohoe pray during services for Ashley Donohoe, 22, and Olivia Burke, 21 at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Mourners pray during services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Friends and family gather for a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are set in front of the altar before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015 in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A funeral director transports the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mourners embrace following an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. The fourth floor balcony at the Library Gardens apartment complex detached early Tuesday morning killing six and injuring seven during a 21st birthday party. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland's Minister of State for the Diaspora, leaves an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Pallbearers attend to the caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Pallbearers attend to the caskets of Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, before a service at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Jackie Donohoe places items on top of her daughter's casket during a service for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Gavin Burke, second from right, brother of Olivia Burke holds his head in his hands as his fatter Paul Burke looks down during services for Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, at St. Josephs Catholic Church in Cotati, Calif., on Saturday, June 20, 2015. The two woman were among the several people killed on Tuesday when a balcony snapped off the fifth floor of a Berkeley apartment building during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A man holds his head during a memorial service for six Irish students at the Cathedral of Christ the Light Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. The six Irish students died when a balcony collapsed during a party in Berkeley. (AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach)
Mourners embrace following an open casket vigil for four Irish students who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Funeral directors transport the body of an Irish student who died Tuesday when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. Caskets bearing four of the six victims arrived at St. Columba Catholic Church for a vigil Friday afternoon. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Mourners arrive at a vigil for four Irish students who died when a Berkeley apartment balcony collapsed on Friday, June 19, 2015, in Oakland Calif. The balcony at Berkeley's Library Gardens apartment complex detached early Tuesday morning killing six during a birthday party. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Members of the public queue to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A member of the public arrives to sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin's city centre for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 20, 2015. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Tributes left in a book of condolence in the chapel at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, where UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in Berkeley. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A flag flies at half mast at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin, to honour the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Candles are lit in memory of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. The victims - five from Ireland and one from California - plunged to their deaths while celebrating a 21st birthday party in the US city. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A list of the names of the victims beside a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin opened in memory of those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Messages written by President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina in a book of condolence opened at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke (right) invites members of the public to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Michael D Higgins signs a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Lord Mayor Christy Burke (left) watches as President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday June 18, 2015. See PA story IRISH Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Mourners attend the funeral of Eoghan Culligan at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin, after he died when a balcony collapsed in the college town of Berkeley, California. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2015. See PA story FUNERAL Balcony. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina whoi attended a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost their lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People gather for a mass at UCD this afternoon for the young Irish students who lost thir lives in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness signing a book of condolence at the Mansion House following the deaths of the young Irish students in the Berkeley tragedy. Pic:Mark Condren 19.6.2015
People stand in silence at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. AFP/Getty Images
Members of the public queue to sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Tributes left in a book of condolence in the chapel at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, where UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
A woman holds a candle during a candlelight vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A flag flies at half mast at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin, to honour the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Books of condolence for the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse are opened at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Candles are lit in memory of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock, Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Members of the public sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina sign a book of condolence at Mansion House in Dublin for those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
The Irish students killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse: Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Lorcán Miller, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke, all 21 years old and friends from south Dublin. The sixth fatality is Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22), from California.
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of the balcony that sent six young Irish nationals plummeting to their deaths. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People react during a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of the balcony that sent six young Irish nationals plummeting to their deaths. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A crowd of people stand in silence at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People place candles at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
People place candles and signs at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Young friends attend a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015.
People embrace at a memorial for those who lost their lives after a balcony gave way in Berkeley, California on June 17, 2015. Dry rot and overcrowding could be responsible for the collapse of a balcony at a California apartment building, sending five Irish citizens and an Irish-American woman plummeting to their deaths, media reports said on June 17. At least seven other people were injured in the accident in Berkeley, which took place in the early hours of June 16 during a 21st birthday party. AFP PHOTO / JOSH EDELSONJosh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A man cries during a candlelight vigil at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A woman looks at a makeshift memorial outside of an apartment where six students died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: A man looks at a makeshift memorial outside of an apartment where six students died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: People gather at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 17: People hold candles as they gather at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park to mourn the loss of six students who died in an early Tuesday morning balcony collapse on June 17, 2015 in Berkeley, California. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil for six students who were killed, five of which were in the United States on J1 work visas from Ireland, when a balcony they were standing on collapsed during a birthday party in their Berkeley, California apartment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Emotional tributes have been paid to the tragic students (AP)
Eoghan Culligan and his girlfriend Sarah McCarthy
Neil Sands of the Irish Network Bay Area places a flag of Ireland over wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015 (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Newspapers in the student centre in University College Dublin where three of the six students studied before they were killed in a balcony collapse in the US. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
The remaining wood from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed is shown in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A worker measures near the remaining wood from an apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Irish flag, flowers and a sign are shown at a shrine left for victims of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse Wednesday, June 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A man who did not give his name looks at photographs, cards and flowers from a shrine for victims from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A crew works on the balcony which collapsed, killing six people
Police at the scene of a balcony collapse at an apartment building near UC Berkeley on June 16, 2015 in Berkeley (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A group stands in the lobby at Highland Hospital, where some victims from a balcony that collapsed were taken (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
People gather at the scene of a balcony collapse in Berkeley (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flowers and a cigarette box form a makeshift shrine near the area where a fourth floor balcony collapsed in Berkeley (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Police examine the scene of a balcony collapse in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

A priest from Banbridge has spent an emotional 24 hours with the friends of those killed and injured in the Berkeley balcony tragedy.

Father Aidan McAleenan, who is now based at St Columba's Church near Berkeley, was saying his morning prayers when news of Monday night's accident filtered through at around 9am.

Father Aidan McAleenan
Father Aidan McAleenan

"I was getting texts from Ireland, from friends asking me if I had heard what happened," he said.

"Ireland heard the news before most of us woke up. Social media made a big difference.

"I contacted Father Brendan McBride who is based in an Irish pastoral centre funded by the Irish government and asked if there was anything I could do."

Three hospitals were dealing with the incident and Fr McAleenan was dispatched to the Walnut Creek hospital where two young people who were injured at the party were in surgery. One had a broken femur and the other a punctured lung.

"When I arrived there were nine young ones all from south Dublin," he said.

"They were just absolutely devastated. I had to tell one of the young men another person had died. His best friend."

Fr McAleenan has now been based in the US for 28 years.

"I came out myself on a J1 visa myself," he said. "I could not think of my own parents having to go through that."

When it came to a young man who had lost two friends, he confessed: "I did not know what to say or do."

Fr McAleenan said there was a wonderful sense of community and support at the hospital, which at times felt "more like a wake".

"It was just amazing," he said. "The people there could not have done enough.

"The young guys themselves, it was very hard for them to communicate, but they really stuck together.

"The hospital staff could not have done enough. At one point we prayed together."

Speaking ahead of a special service at the local Christ the Light Cathedral yesterday evening, Fr McAleenan said he would continue to try to play a supportive role in the days ahead.

Belfast Telegraph

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From Belfast Telegraph