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Final farewell Funeral of Berkeley balcony survivor Aoife Beary told she 'had courage to take on the world'

"She didn’t let the accident define her or become a victim."

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The funeral mass of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The funeral mass of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The funeral mass of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The funeral service of Berkeley survivor Aoife Beary has been told she did not let the tragedy define her and insisted on living life well.

Mourners gathered in south Dublin this morning to pay their respects to the 27-year-old who passed away on New Year’s Day.

Aoife Beary had suffered serious injuries following the balcony collapse in California on June 16, 2015, which also claimed the lives of six Irish students as they celebrated her 21st birthday.

This morning at the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock, the congregation were told how despite her injuries she insisted on living a life full of meaning and purpose.

A guard of honour, including pupils from her former school, was formed as the hearse brought Aoife’s remains to this morning’s service.

The wicker coffin was then carried into the church to the sound of ‘Amazing Grace’ before tributes were paid to a young woman who had “the courage to take on the world”.

Parish priest Fr Kieran Dunne said Aoife was a “team girl”, both loving and loyal, who had a heart big enough to become involved in many acts of charity and fundraising.

Fr Dunne said that she was a daughter who had the courage to take on the world in her travels, and a heart warm enough to encounter new friends.

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The family of Aoife Beary, father, Mike mother Angela, her brother Tim, and sister Anna pictured at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27). 
 Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The family of Aoife Beary, father, Mike mother Angela, her brother Tim, and sister Anna pictured at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27). Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The family of Aoife Beary, father, Mike mother Angela, her brother Tim, and sister Anna pictured at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27). Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

He told the congregation that Aoife overcame obstacles which she had never asked for, and that despite the deep loss of personal friends and injury she embraced life and its possibilities.

Prayers were also said for the medical staff who cared for Aoife, and her six friends who lost their lives that night; Eimear Walsh (21), Lorcán Miller (21), Niccolai Schuster (21), Eoghan Culligan (21), Olivia Burke (21), and Ashley Donohoe (22).

In a moving eulogy Aoife’s uncle and godfather, James O’Doherty, said she did not let herself become a victim after the accident and instead continued to build on her innate abilities.

He told the congregation that his goddaughter fought such a good fight and that, despite the injuries she suffered, insisted on living life well.

This, he said, was one full of meaning and purpose, grounded in Aoife’s ability to connect with people and the friendships made.

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Aoife Beary

Aoife Beary

Aoife Beary

“You didn’t forget them, your friends, when you sat in front of the lawmakers in California and you said those words I think everybody here remembers, that your birthday will always be their anniversary.”

Mr O’Doherty said that what people loved about Aoife was her sense of adventure and daring, and how after the accident she made new friends and was determined to visit 25 countries by her 25th birthday.

Mourners were told that she was always adventurous, and especially showed this in response to the accident.

“She continued to build on all her innate abilities. She didn’t let the accident define her or become a victim.

“One of the ways to think about that is to say; Aoife achieved her degree in pharmacology before Berkeley, and she was well on her road to achieving her occupational therapy degree at Oxford Brooks following Berkeley.”

Mr O’Doherty said that parents nurture their children and launch them into the world., but never expect phone calls to be summoned to the other side of the world to take care of their sick child, to nurse them back to health.

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  A guard of honour by pupils from Lotetto, Foxrock and Hollypark School at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock.  Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A guard of honour by pupils from Lotetto, Foxrock and Hollypark School at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A guard of honour by pupils from Lotetto, Foxrock and Hollypark School at the funeral of Aoife Beary (27) at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

“No parent should have to worry about her recovery, no parent should have to be anxious about her future, no parent should have to bury their child.”

Addressing Aoife’s parents, he said: “To paraphrase Hopkins, Angela and Mike, your duty is all done now.”

James O’Doherty concluded by saying that people could take time later to mourn his goddaughter, but that today they should celebrate her life as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and as an inspiration.

Earlier in the service offertory gifts were brought up to the altar representing Aoife Beary’s loves and passions in life.

They included Irish dancing shoes, which she took part in from the age of six to 21; a scratch map of the world, as travel was her biggest passion; and a coffee cup, with the service told her vanilla latte was an important part of her daily routine.

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 Aoife Beary's  mother Angela  and sister Anna pictured at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock.  Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Aoife Beary's mother Angela and sister Anna pictured at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Aoife Beary's mother Angela and sister Anna pictured at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Clodagh Cogley, a fellow survivor of the Berkeley tragedy, brought up a Spanish textbook. Mourners were told Aoife had taken up learning the language during lockdown and was able to converse fluently with locals when her and a friend travelled to Spain only last October.

There were also her school jumpers from St Patrick’s GNS Hollypark and Loretto Foxrock, where she attended primary and secondary level education and added to her circle of friends.

Also brought to the altar were her UCD degree scroll, a place where she immersed herself in college life and various fundraisers, and her occupational therapy uniform from when Aoife started a new chapter of her life at Oxford Brooks University.

She began her studies in 2017 and the service was told Aoife adored her new independent life.

Irish poet Nessa O’Mahoney also read out a poem she wrote in the aftermath of the tragedy called ‘A Poppy for Aoife’.

The chief mourners were Aoife’s parents, Angela and Mike, and her siblings Tim and Anna. President Michael D. Higgins was also represented at the funeral service by his Aide-de-Camp, Col. Stephen Howard.

Following the funeral service Aoife Beary’s coffin was carried out of the church to ‘Over the Rainbow’, before being brought to Newlands Cross Crematorium for cremation.

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