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A year on, the friendship and love of six young students is remembered

A memorial service was held in Dublin yesterday.

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A NEW TREE now stands in the front courtyard in the American Embassy in Dublin 4.

A fortress in the middle of the city, the Ballsbridge building is now home to a touching tribute to six young people who lost their lives in the city of Berkeley on this day last year.

Ambassador Kevin O’Malley planted the tree yesterday during a remembrance ceremony so it could serve as a living reminder to those affected by the balcony tragedy.

“As the tree grows strong, we will take comfort in the knowledge that the memory of Ashley, Eimear, Eoghan, Lorcan, Niccolai, and Olivia, will remain with us always,” he said.

Extending the sympathies of the people of the United States, he described the events of the early hours of 16 June 2015 as an “unimaginable tragedy”.

As the group celebrated their friend’s 21st birthday, the balcony many of them stood on collapsed at their apartment. Eimear Walsh, Ashley Donohue, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eoghan Culligan fell to their deaths, while many more suffered life-changing injuries.

O’Malley also recalled the bravery of those who continue to battle with the mental and physical effects of the tragedy.

“We also hold in our thoughts and prayers the young people who are still recovering from their injuries; that they may continue to heal with the love and support of family and friends here and in the United States.

The remarkable resilience they have displayed sends a powerful reminder to the world of the friendship between our people and of our capacity to unite in times of adversity. I hope the outpouring of love and support from the American people in the aftermath of this tragedy has provided some comfort and brought us closer together.

Friendship has always been at the heart of the J1 programme, he added.

The parents of the injured previously paid tribute to their children’s friends who rallied for them last summer.

In a statement last July, the families of Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Hannah Waters and Niall Murray warned that the “road to recovery is far from straight”.

They called the J1 students’ friends who stayed on to support them as “genuine heroes”, praising them for responding “tenderly to the needs of our children at the scene and in the immediate horrific aftermath”.

A service was also held at St Columbia’s Church in Berkeley last night to remember the victims, their families and friends.

Read: ‘It is a measure of the man that his peers still look to him for inspiration and support’

More: Berkeley parents: J1 students are ‘genuine heroes who responded tenderly to the needs of our children’

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