Hundreds of mourners turned out in Dublin at the wake of Eoghan Culligan, one of the six students killed in the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, last week.
Police, cornered off streets surround Fanagan’s Funeral Home, in Dundrum, Dublin as the crowds paid tribute to the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) student, from Rathfarnham. Culligan’s wake is the first of the first Irish student’s funerals which will be held this week.
Last week the collapse of what is believed to be a rotten wooden balcony in a modern apartment building in Berkeley saw five Irish J-1 students and one Irish American lose their lives. Seven others were also injured.
Those who lost their lives were Eimear Walsh (21); Eoghan Culligan (21); Niccolai Schuster (21); and Lorcan Miller (21) and Ashley Donohoe (22), from Rohnert Park, California; Olivia Burke (21), who were cousins.
Funeral ceremonies have already taken place for Irish American Donohue and her cousin Burke, from Foxrock, in California.
“When they were younger they would dress alike and fool their parents into thinking they were twins. They would go back and forth to visit one another.
“They were together in life and they are now together in death.”
Burke’s funeral in Dublin will take place on Wednesday.
The hearse of four of the Irish students were led from Dublin Airport on Sunday by police escort.
Culligan, a St Mary's alumnus, was studying logistics and supply chain management at DIT. The 21-year-old played GAA for Ballyboden.
Since his death tributes have poured in for the young man who is described as “popular and friendly.”
A special memorial service was held at DIT last Wednesday. Afterwards a friend, Louise O’Connor, told the Irish Independent that Culligan has touched so many lives.
She said “He was a great guy. Really laid back but with a great sense of humor and always made me feel at ease."
The DIT head of chaplaincy Father Alan Hilliard presided over the service and also co-celebrated Mass on Saturday evening in the Pro-Cathedral with Archbishop Dermot Martin.
Fr Hilliard said Culligan’s death as been devastating for everyone in the college.
He said “The impact on the class and among staff has been shattering.
"For a third-level institution that is focused on getting these young people out there and watching them grow up - seeing that stolen is just tragic."
He also paid tribute to the emigrant chaplains in San Francisco. Fr Hilliard mentioned how they had helped those traumatized by the tragedy and how they had tried to create a sense of familiarity in a strange place.
He said “When you are stressed, simple things become difficult and there is a longing for the things that make you feel comfortable, where you can grieve and mourn and be reassured."
On Tuesday morning, Eimear Walsh’s funeral will be at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock, while Eoghan Culligan’s funeral will be at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham.
On Wednesday, Niccolai Schuster’s funeral will be at the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar, and Olivia's will be at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock.
Meanwhile in Berkeley, California, authorities are investigating whether criminal charges will be pursued following the accident. The balcony, in the building constructed by Segue Construction Inc. and completed in 2007, is according to structural engineers who investigated the scene, rotten. It’s believed that moisture infiltrated the timber supporting the balcony where the students were standing.
The other seven students involved in the accident remain in hospital in California.