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Friends and family pay tribute to victims of Berkeley tragedy

NewsBy Sunday World
Tributes have also been laid at the site of the incident
Tributes have also been laid at the site of the incident

Friends and loved ones of those who died in the US balcony collapse have begun paying emotional tributes.

UCD students Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan had also studied together at St Mary's College in Rathmines, Dublin, and left for college life in the class of 2012.

The school offered prayers for all those who died and were injured in the accident at the start of the summer J1 season in California.

"The thoughts and prayers of everybody in the St Mary's community are with the families of Niccolai and Eoghan, and the other Irish youngsters who died or were injured in the heartbreaking accident in the United States yesterday," St Mary's said.

"We also pray particularly for those being treated in hospital, and their families, many of whom are travelling today to the US."

Lorcan Miller was a former pupil at St Andrew's College in Booterstown, south Dublin, where his mother had taught Irish, and had gone on to study medicine in UCD, as had Eimear Walsh.

Headmaster Peter Fraser recalled him as an exceptional person.

"The one thing speaking to colleagues this morning was the fact that he was positive, engaging, decent boy who was incredibly talented, but normal, modest and balanced about it all. He was hugely popular," Mr Fraser said.

Lorcan was deputy head boy in his final school year before leaving for college in 2012.

"He would have been very well known by almost everyone in the college, and in such a big school that's quite an achievement. He had a rounded talent. He was very keen on issues of social awareness and social conscience," Mr Fraser said.

"There's no question, he would have been one of your school's role models."

Lorcan played on the school hockey team, had roles in the choir and musicals and also took key positions in the school's Model United Nations with Mr Fraser adding that teachers were particularly fond of him.

A large number of those at the birthday party in the Berkeley apartment complex knew each other from UCD and also from connections with schools in south Dublin.

Eoghan Culligan was also a highly regarded Gaelic football player and turned out for Ballyboden St Enda's in a county final in 2011.

"It is with great regret and sadness that we inform you that Ballyboden St Enda's member Eoghan Culligan was one of the six people who tragically lost their lives in Berkeley, California earlier today (June 16 2015).

"Eoghan was very popular with his team-mates and this tragic news is keenly felt by all members of our Club, but especially by those players and mentors who knew him well," the club said.

"We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his parents Gerry and Marie and to his brothers Stephen and Andrew and to all the extended Culligan family."

"May we take this opportunity of extending our sympathies to all the families of Eoghan's friends who also lost their lives in this terrible tragedy and to wish those who are injured eventual recovery to full health."

Olivia Burke was remembered as a very well-liked student in a close-knit group at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).

The 21-year-old from Foxrock was expected back at the south Dublin college in September to start her final year of a degree in entrepreneurship and management.

Dr Annie Doona, IADT president, said there are counsellors on hand for friends and family turning up at the college today to remember her.

"It's a very sad day here for her fellow students and for the staff," she said.

"Olivia was very well respected, very well liked and had been doing really well on the course."

Olivia was one of up to 30 students from IADT who go to the US every year on a J1 summer working holiday visa.

"She was working in a restaurant in Ireland before she went out and our understanding is that she had a job in a sushi restaurant in California," said Dr Doona.

She had been sharing a flat in the US with a number of the others who had been killed and injured.

Olivia had completed a five month placement at East Coast Radio in Ireland recently, where colleagues praised as a "bright, bubbly, young kid".

"The first thing you think about when you hear about this is how terrible for the friends and family and then, as president, the second thing I thought is I wonder if any of our students are involved, and sadly we discovered that Olivia was one of the victims," said Dr Doona.

"It's very dim and very quiet here on the campus this morning.

"We've put in supports for students, so we have counsellors on site, we have our nurse on site.

"Although the students have finished, we think that some of them will come here, they'll want to meet, they'll want to hug, they'll want to talk about Olivia, and they'll want to spend a bit of time just thinking about her and grieving."

Dr Doona added: "She was doing very well, and enjoying herself and making great friends. It's terribly sad."