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GOODBYE OUR ANGELS; FIRST BERKELEY BALCONY VICTIMS ARE LAID TO REST; Her passing has left a void but I know she'd want us to be strong - EIMEAR'S DAD JIM YESTERDAY LOVED Crowd; We've lost a beacon that will never again shine. We are heartbroken - EOGHAN'S MOTHER MARIE YESTERDAY.

Byline: ADELINA CAMPOS and GARRETH MacNAMEE

THERE were heartbreaking scenes yesterday at the funerals of tragic Berkeley victims Eimear Walsh and Eoghan Culligan.

The first of the five funerals for the bright and bubbly students took place in Foxrock, South Dublin and Rathfarnham respectively.

Crowds packed out the two churches as family and loved ones said their final goodbyes to the pair.

Eimear's father told the Church of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock, just yards from where she attended secondary school, of his love for his "beautiful girl."

And glowing tributes were made at the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham where Eoghan's funeral took place.

Both ceremonies began at 11am as heartbroken friends searching for answers paid tribute to lives cut so short in the US tragedy last week.

Eimear's proud father Jim said: "Eimear was such a beautiful person, a wonderful daughter and sister.

"Her passing has left a void in our lives but I know Eimear would want us to be strong."

The devastated dad also told how his daughter loved to dance and sing and that they believed a career in the theatre would surely follow.

But Eimear surprised them all when she said she wanted to be a doctor.

Jim added: "Eimear was deceptively easy going but she was very determined when she set her mind to something, "We thought a career in the theatrical world would follow. But in 6th year she said she wanted to go into medicine.

"She knuckled down and got the grades.

"We're very proud of who she was and what she achieved."

The moving service was attended by many of Eimear's old school friends from nearby Loreto Foxrock as well as dozens of her pals from UCD.

Parish priest Fr Paul Ward described how he knew Eimear all her life and did his best to comfort her parents Jim and Patricia and her brother Robert.

He said: "The past week has been long and harrowing for so many people involved in the Berkeley tragic accident. Family and friends have suffered shock and grief.

"This day last week seemed endless for Jim, Patricia and Robert as they waited for any communication from Eimear or her friends.

He also said it was "interesting, but not surprising" that Eimear chose to study medicine.

Ward added: "I have known Eimear for most of her 21 years. She and a group of her friends were part of the Family Mass Group throughout her primary school days.

"When they graduated to second level, Eimear and some of her friends stayed on in the church music group.

"She was a beautiful singer and she advanced to take lessons with Honor Heffernan, who is here with us today.

"It's interesting, but not surprising, that Eimear chose medicine for her third level studies. I say that because she comes from a family who are most considerate and caring."

Similar sentiments were made at the funeral of Eoghan who was described by his family as "beautifully strange and always up for the laugh" by his heartbroken family.

The 21-year-old's grieving older brothers Stephen and Andy recalled how Eoghan had been their "wiser" brother, the one who settled all the arguments.

Both paid tribute to the young DIT student's memory.

Holding back tears, Stephen said: "He was our translator, our sense-maker, our peacemaker, He was our wiser brother."

Hundreds of mourners attended the service which was led by Fr Richard Olin of St Mary's College in Rathmines where Eoghan went to school.

They stood in silence as the coffin arrived at the church to the musical background of Forever Young.

A guard of honour was formed by pupils of St Mary's, DIT students and Eoghan's teammates from Ballydoden St Enda's GAA club.

His distraught parents Marie and Gerry Culligan, his brothers and his devastated girlfriend Sarah McCarthy accompanied the coffin. Also present at the service were the parents of Nick Schuster, 21, who also lost his life in the balcony collapse.

Lieut Colonel Kiernan represented President Michael D Higgins at the funeral while Commandant Foley represented Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

American ambassador Kevin O'Malley and local TD Communications Minister Alex White also attended the service.

Friends of Eoghan's brought to the altar a number of symbols representing his life, which were explained by his uncle Henry.

Among them were a signed jersey of the Irish rugby team, one of the Dublin GAA side, a medal he won playing U13 rugby and a staff and ring from a production of the Lord of the Rings.

St Mary's College Choir sang Somewhere Only We Know, Feels Like Home, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, Time Of Your life and The Prayer during the service, before Eoghan's parents said a few words in his memory.

His grief-stricken mum Marie said: "You were the light in our lives which brightened up our every day.

"We have lost a beacon that will never again shine. We are heartbroken. However, our love will remain intact until the day we die." Eoghan's two best friends Ross and Jack recalled what a loyal and wonderful friend "Cully" had been to them.

Jack managed to cheer up the sombre py crowd with a few happy memories of Eoghan.

He said: "With Cully's brains and my brawn, all we were missing was the beauty.

"Not long after Ross moved into [their estate] - we were still missing the beauty.

"Nonetheless, [our] crew was created and we were inseparable ever since. Rest in peace my brother. You are a great guy and an even better friend."

Eoghan's girlfriend Sarah also made an emotional farewell to her "soulmate". In a poem she wrote for him, she said: "I'll miss how much you loved and the future we could have had and the memories we could have made.

"My soulmate was taken from mmww me but I know you will live on in my heart every day and that you will guide me every step of the way."

Pal Nick Schuster will be buried today after his funeral mass in the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar.

Olivia Burke will be remembered at her funeral in the same b church where Eimear's was held yesterday.

Meanwhile, an early report into the collapse has confirmed the balcony had "severe dry rot".

The platform that snapped off was supported by wooden beams and had been badly rotted by water damage, according to city inspectors.

The report confirmed "the deck joist ends protruding from the exterior wall appeared to be severely dry rotted".

However, the full report into the horrific accident will not be completed for several months.

irish@mgn.co.uk

He was our translator, our sense-maker, our peacemaker. He was our wiser older brother STEPHEN CULLIGAN yesterday

CAPTION(S):

gone too soon Eoghan Culligan and Eimear Walsh

family. TRAGEDY Eimear Walsh's parents Jim and Patricia at funeral yesterday

OVERCOME Tears for pal

AGONY Friends embrace each other

MOVED TO TEARS Friends of Eoghan Culligan at his funeral in Dublin yesterday. Inset, the order of service
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 24, 2015
Words:1166
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