Berkeley Tragedy Remembered

By Dave Lewis, Assistant Editor
September / October 2018

On July 21, Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall and the mayor of the City of Berkeley, Jesse Arreguin, family members, and representatives of the Irish community unveiled a memorial plaque honoring the six students who perished when an apartment balcony collapsed underneath them in June 2015.

The students, five of whom were from Dublin, Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster, Eimear Walsh, and Ashley Donohue, an American cousin of Oliva Burke, were attending a 21st birthday party when the fatal incident occurred. Seven others were injured. Fr. Brendan McBride of San Francisco’s Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, who had given comfort to the families of the victims following the tragedy, blessed the memorial stone.

Ambassador Mulhall spoke on the tragic event and its enormous effect on Ireland. “The depth of grief, shock and sorrow was immense – six young lives so tragically and prematurely ended, and serious injury inflicted on so many.” Mulhall also paid tribute to the first responders and other medical staff, the Irish Consulate, Fr. Brendan, and the Irish of the Bay Area who supported the family during their grief. The plaque is located at the southwest corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Park where President Michael D. Higgins planted strawberry trees in October 2015 in the victims’ honor. The stone plaque bears a quote from James Joyce: “They lived and laughed and loved and left,”along with the Irish phrase: Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine / “We all live in each other’s shadow.” ♦

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