Eimear Walsh funeral Mass told of ‘wonderful daughter ’

Father tells hundreds of mourners Eimear was fun-loving but also independent minded

Hundreds of mourners at the funeral of Eimear Walsh (21) were told that she was “beautiful person” and a “wonderful daughter and sister”.

Her father Jim said his daughter was a fun-loving person who lived in the moment but also independent-minded.

Ms Walsh, who was one of those killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse, was determined when setting her mind to things and had surprised her family when she announced in sixth-year that she wanted to study medicine.

Her family thought she might be destined for a theatrical career.


Mr Walsh said he was very proud of “who she was and what she achieved”.

Her death had left a “tragic void in our lives but she would want us to be strong for each other and keep going”.

Chief celebrant Fr Paul Ward, a curate at Foxrock, told the estimated 700 mourners the Mass was a celebration of her life. Some might find the word strange but the Latin roots means simply a "gathering together".

He said the country was “united in grief” at the deaths in Berkeley.

Fr Ward spoke of the shock and grief endured by her parents Jim and Patricia and her brother Robert as they realised that Eimear had died five hours after the balcony collapse.

"Many words have been written over the past week. Ireland has been united in grief and has reflected on the loss of our group of young talented people who represented abroad all that is good about us," he told the packed congregation.

Fr Ward recounted how he had known Eimear for most of her life. She and a group of friends were part of the family mass group through her primary school years.

It was not a surprise that she had taken medicine for her third level studies, he suggested. “I say that because she comes from a family who are most considerate and caring. They constantly look outwards to their neighbours and to the community. Their home is one of genuine hospitality.”

Fr Ward had known Eimear for most of her 21 years. She and a group of her friends were part of the family mass group throughout her primary school days. He described her as a beautiful singer who had advanced to take lessons with Honor Heffernan. Ms Heffernan sang at the mass.

Fr Ward reflected on the tragedy of six young people losing their lives conceding that it "raises questions we can't answer. It challenges the very meaning and purpose of life. It faces us with our own mortality and it challenges our faith."The nature of suffering confounds the nature of faith. The French philosopher Albert Camus was unable to get his head around it and as a result he concluded that life was 'absurd'.

Eimear Walsh was one of two past pupils from Loreto College Foxrock to have died in the tragedy - the other was Olivia Burke whose funeral takes place on Wednesday.

Both former Loreto girls had been working as hostesses at the Hana Zen sushi bar and Japanese restaurant overlooking San Francisco Bay at Pier 39.

Many of their ex-classmates attended the funeral service as did Ms Walsh’s fellow medical students from UCD. Fr Ward told them that Eimear parent’s Jim and Trish were hurting too and were shell shocked over what happened.

“When you are young, your own mortality is the furthest thing from your mind. And so it should be,” Fr Ward told them.

“As you look to the future you are now very aware of how precious and fragile life is. Appreciate the gift of life to its fullest and take on the mantle that Eimear has left behind, by making the world and the future a better place in her memory.”

The gifts brought to the altar were her medical book, her tan, hair straightener and lipstick, her dancing shoes and music reflecting her many interests.

Music at the service was provided by vocalists Goretti Newell and Honor Heffernan, organist Cormuin O Raghallaigh and flautist Áinle O'Shea. They were joined by the Foxrock Family Mass Music Group. Fr Liam Lawton also sang at the funeral mass.

After the Mass Ms Walsh’s remains will be interred in Shanganagh Cemetery.

Church bells tolled as the hearse carrying her remains arrived at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Foxrock at 11am.

The Funeral Mass was relayed to the parish centre for the overflow as the church is packed for the occasion.

A live stream of the Mass was relayed by the church for those who could not attend.

The Government was represented by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys.

President Michael D Higgins was represented by his aide-de-camp Lieutenant David Lyons. The Taoiseach was represented by his aide-de-camp Capt Kieran Carey.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times