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'Eoghan was our translator, sense-maker and peacemaker. He was our wiser brother'

All members of the Culligan family spoke about the heartbreak of losing their son, brother, best friend and boyfriend.

“BEAUTIFULLY STRANGE. ALWAYS up for a laugh. Weird and wonderful.”

Those were the words of Andy Culligan as he remembered his youngest brother Eoghan at his funeral Mass this morning.

Family and friends gathered in Rathfarnham to bid their final farewells to the 21-year-old student who was one of six tragically killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse last week.

A eulogy given by two brothers Andy and Steve described Eoghan – or ‘Cully’ – as a leader, a trendsetter and a person “unafraid to do really strange things in his own way”.

He was, in many ways, a wealth of contradictions, Steve said.

“He was our little brother, but he felt like he was our bigger and wiser brother,” he added, noting the many “petty fights and frustrations” that Eoghan “rose above”.

“He was our translator, sense-maker, peacemaker and wiser brother. [Eoghan], I’m not sure you knew how much of an influence you are on me.”

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In a brief reflection, Eoghan’s Mum and Dad Marie and Gerry told the congregation that they were “heartbroken” at the sudden death of their youngest son.

“My dearest Eoghan. You were the light in our lives which brightened up every day,” Marie said as her voice cracked.

We’ve lost a beacon that will never again shine, our hearts broken. However, our love will remain intact until the day we die.

Brother Steve also noted how Eoghan’s many, many friends had spoken to them over the past few days.

“A lot of stories we didn’t know – that we probably should never have heard of. We would love to continue to hear those stories forever,” he added.

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Some of those stories were told by his best friends Jack and Ross.

On first meeting at a summer camp at age 7, Jack and Eoghan hit it off over football and nutmegs. Three years later, they reunited at Irish camp.

“I recognised him straight away,” Jack told the congregation. “He called me Paul. My name is Jack, by the way,” he recalled to laughter. “Although he assured me he hadn’t forgotten me.”

The Culligans, shortly after, moved into the same estate as Jack and Eoghan became his “new neighbour and best friend, Cully”.

Rest in peace my brother. You are a great guy and even better friend.

Ross – the third member of the gang – shared his last memory of Eoghan from before he set off on the J1.

“It was 17th May and I was hungover in a friend’s house,” he said. After texting Eoghan for a short time, he was asked if he wanted a lift home.

“I couldn’t have wanted it more – the state of me,” he laughed. “That was a testament to him as a person and as a friend. He could always sense how I was feeling and act appropriately.”

Before hugging the Culligan family, he told Eoghan, “I will never forget you.”

Andy Culligan also spoke about the memories he holds dear about his brother – both as a “kid” and a young adult. Many of the tales, he said, he thought he would be recounting at Sarah and Eoghan’s wedding as his best man. She was his soulmate, he said simply.

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Sarah McCarthy read a poem, full of her favourite memories of her time with Eoghan.

“I’ll miss you more than you can ever imagine,” she began, mentioning their “lazy Sunday afternoons”, his “infectious laugh” and how he often, affectionately called her a “fecking eejit”.

“I’ll miss your button nose… I’ll miss your hipster clothes… the dinner dates and cheeky pints… the hungover days of eating McDonalds for breakfast and Dominoes for dinner… the way you played with my hair before I slapped your hand away… how we Facetimed each other before bed… I’ll miss texting you every second of the day.

I’ll miss the way you never left my side and when it was time to say goodbye you’d hug me so tight, tell me how much you loved me and then say goodnight.

“My soulmate was taken from me… but you will be with me to guide me every step of the way,” she concluded to applause and hugs from the Culligan family.She mourned the “future we could have had and the memories we could have made”.

Ending the reflections, Andy said his final farewells amid tears and a hug from his brother:

C’mere, what’s been very apparent in the last couple of days. Being through up and down times myself, he was my little brother but he was my big brother at the same time. Eoghan we love you, we’ll never forget you and we’ll miss you terribly. See you on the other side brother.

Fr Richard Olin of St Mary’s College in Rathmines, where Eoghan was a student, was the chief celebrant at the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham this morning.

Outside the church, Ballyboden St Enda players joined with St Mary’s students for a guard of honour as the cortege arrived with a Garda escort.

He was joined by the parents and past pupils of the school who provided music and singing, including a rendition of On Eagle’s Wings as the responsorial psalm; Feels Like Home and Hallelujah during Communion, and Sweet Suburban Sky for the final procession.

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Symbols of Eoghan’s life, including sports jerseys, medals and his grandfather’s watch, were brought to the altar by school and college friends, as well as football teammates from Ballyboden St Endas GAA club.

Readings were delivered by Méabh, the girlfriend of his brother Stephen, and sister-in-law Theresa, while prayers of the faithful were read by friends Ross, Eva and Carl. Other prayers were made by his aunt Ann, uncle Gordan, Sarah’s mother Bridget and his mother’s best friend Anita.

Offertory gifts were brought to the altar by friends Mick, Conor and Duck.

Dignitaries in attendance included Minister Alex White, US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley and the aides de camp for both the Taoiseach and the President.

The final prayer was given by Fr Alan Hilliard of DIT, Eoghan’s college, who said that death doesn’t sit easy within the walls of third level institutes as they are “places of life, flourishing and great fun”.

Fr Olin also offered his prayers to all six victims of the Berkeley tragedy.

May Eoghan and Niccolai, Olivia and Lorcan, Eimear and Ashley who also died young, may they rise young, forever young. In the fullness of life in the Father’s kingdom.  

Eimear Walsh: Funeral hears of kind-hearted, generous and fun-loving young woman

Read: Six Irish students remain in Californian hospitals, two still in serious condition

More: The remains of all the Berkeley victims have now returned to Ireland

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