The Irish dance community in Boston is in shock over the news that one of its cherished students, seven-year-old Jane Richard of Dorchester, lost a leg in the terror attack at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon.
Jane RIchards brother Martin, eight, was killed in the explosions, and her mother Denise suffered a serious brain injury. Her father Bill Richard and eldest brother Henry, 12, were unharmed.
The Richard family is beloved in their heavily Irish Dorchester hometown, and Jane has been an enthusiastic student at the Clifden Academy of Irish Dance in Milton since she turned three.
“She is just a beautiful little girl. We taught her since she was a baby, pointing her little toe,” a tearful Eileen Dillon Dinn, owner of the Clifton Academy, told the Irish Voice.
“We are just in a state of shock and disbelief. The Richard family is lovely. They went to the marathon as a happy family, and then this happened. We don’t know what to say.”
Jane, Dillon Dinn said, loved to dance and learn all the new moves. Dressing up in fancy Irish costumes and wigs also filled her with delight.
The little girl was on the sidelines at the recent Irish World Dance Championships in Boston, cheering on her fellow students and dreaming that someday she too would get the chance to compete.
“She’s a beauty, always smiling,” said Dillon Dinn, adding that Jane would attend class every Tuesday at the Milton-based school not far from Dorchester. “Jane really lives to dance.”
The Clifden Academy’s Facebook page on Tuesday was full of hundreds of posts from dancers around the world offering condolences to the Richard family. Similarly, the Facebook page of Irish Dancing Magazine also served as an outlet for those wishing to offer sympathy.
To help the Richard family with their sudden expenses, a bank account has been established in their name at Meetinghouse Bank, 2250 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester Center, Massachusetts, 02124. Checks can be made payable to the Richard Family Fund.
Meanwhile on Facebook, friends remembered the second victim. Krystle Campbell who was of Irish heritage. The third victim is an unnamed Chinese graduate student at Boston University originally from China's northeastern city of Shenyang.
“Krystle was seldom caught not smiling and not expressing her opinion. She was beautiful, she was loud, and everyone loved her for it. Along with the million-dollar smile came head-to-toe freckles and gorgeous bright red hair, connecting her Irish roots and kid-like manner; it was easy to feel 10 years younger around her, no matter who you were. She had tremendous passion and energy, and Krystle attacked life with vigor and excitement.” a friend wrote,
There were 108 registered natives of Ireland who ran in Monday’s Boston Marathon, 50 of whom are resident in Ireland. All were reported to be safe and unharmed.
The building that houses the Boston Irish Consulate on Boylston Street where the explosions occurred was immediately evacuated. There are also several Irish bars and restaurants in the nearby area. Lir Irish Pub and Restaurant at 903 Boylston Street, a popular location for marathon spectators, remained closed as of Tuesday night due to the ongoing criminal investigation in the surrounding area.
The Irish government issued statements offering condolences for those affected by the attack.
"On behalf of the Irish people, I am sending our sympathy and support to Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick and to the people of Boston who have been devastated by this senseless and terrible event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny said on Monday night.
"My thoughts are with the people and the authorities in Boston as they continue to deal with this tragic situation", Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore said.
"I know that there were a significant number of Irish participating or involved in the marathon, and my department -- in particular the Irish Consulate in Boston -- is doing all that it can to make contact with our nationals to check on their situation.