The sister of Ashley Donohue, the Irish-American student who lost her life in the Berkeley balcony tragedy in 2015, is to represent San Francisco in the 2017 Rose of Tralee. Twenty-year-old Amanda Donohue also lost her cousin Olivia Burke in the accident in which six young students were killed and seven others gravely injured.
Donohue, a physics student at the University of Nevada, was crowned the San Francisco Rose last month during the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, meeting with Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald who was there on a government visit. She will now represent the city at the 58th festival taking place over seven days from August 16 until August 22. Over the course of the week, judges will decide whether Donohue will be among those to take to the stage for the last round of televised interviews before the 58th Rose of Tralee is crowned.
Although born and raised just north of San Francisco, both Donohue’s parents come from Dublin and she states that she has “a strong sense of Irish tradition and heritage in my heart.”
“Two traditions I've always loved, was helping my mother make Irish Christmas cakes using my granny's famous recipe as well as pulling the crackers on Christmas Day,” she writes.
Working toward her bachelor of science in physics with a minor in math, Donohue hopes to pursue a PhD in Physics and establish a career in research.
“I currently serve as the Director of Cultural Interests for Delta Gamma, Eta Iota Chapter, which allows me to host presentations to over 200 women, regarding respect and understanding of cultures around the world,” her Rose of Tralee bio states.
“I have volunteered in many different areas, such as teaching special needs kids to ride bicycles, working with veterans and volunteering at a senior care facility.”
On June 16, 2015, Donohue’s sister Ashley, 22, as well as five Irish students in the US on summer J-1 visas, Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; and Eimear Walsh, 21, were celebrating the birthday of fellow J-1 student Aoife Beary at their summer-rented apartment at the Library Garden complex, 2020 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, when the apartment’s balcony collapsed,
The six students died from their injuries after being flung from the fourth-floor apartment to the ground below.
Beary was also injured in the incident, along with a further six Irish J-1 students: Hannah Waters, Clodagh Cogley, Niall Murray, Sean Fahey, Jack Halpin and Conor Flynn, some of whom are still recovering from injuries that may completely alter the course of their lives.
Their injuries at the time included a brain injury, a severed spinal cord, shattered knees and elbows, broken limbs, cracked ribs and punctured lungs.
Amanda’s mother Jackie Donohue was among those leading the charge to improve building regulations in California following the death of her daughter and niece once it emerged that the balcony collapse had been caused by dry rot due to the construction company’s failure to adequately seal the balcony against water damage.
It also emerged that the company in question had faced previous convictions for poor workmanship which they were not required to disclose when undertaking a new job.
With thanks to the work of Jackie Donohue and the testimony of critically injured victim Aoife Beary, the state of California has now implemented legislation that requires contractors to disclose to their regulator any convictions they’ve faced for poor workmanship and will also require state studies on the need to ensure balconies are safer in the future.
H/T: Irish Mirror