Funeral of Olivia Burke told deaths have ‘pained us all’

Hozier performs during service at Foxrock before burial at Deansgrange Cemetery

 

The funeral of Berkeley balcony collapse victim Olivia Burke (21) was held in Dublin on Wednesday morning.

Ms Burke’s remains arrived at the Our Lady of Perpetual Succour church in Foxrock at 11am, and were brought to Deansgrange Cemetery afterwards for burial.

A sizeable crowd had gathered at the church to await the arrival of Ms Burke’s coffin, accompanied by her parents Paul and Paula and brother Gavin.

Ms Burke’s cousin Ashley Donohue had also been killed in the collapse.

On the church grounds, Irish and US flags flew at half-mast in recognition of the tragedy that struck the Burke and Donohue families which led to a dual funeral for Ms Burke and her Californian relative Ms Donohue (22), who were on Wednesday described as “soulmates”, in Sonoma County last Thursday.

Singer-songwriter Hozier gave an intimate performance at Ms Burke’s funeral Mass.

School journal

Members of the Donohue family were present at the service, and Ashley’s sister Amanda helped carry to the altar symbols of Ms Burke’s life, including a school journal from Loreto College Foxrock, a picture of her dog Skipper and a Ted Baker bag.

Speaking from behind an ornate silver casket embellished with decorative white roses, her father Paul Burke lamented the loss of such a “caring and considerate person”.

“It is a challenge to stand here. No parent wishes to see their child depart this life at such a tender age.

“Not being able to experience where Olivia’s potential journey in life would have taken her, be it in her career, her friendships, her loves and so on. It will certainly cause us heartache in the times ahead,” he said.

“She was a caring and considerate person, I think more worried about your problems than chatting about her own - although she did chat.

“She always had a smile and loved to have a joke and a laugh at any opportunity, she loved the nightlife, and especially a boogie on the dancefloor,” he added, before paying tribute to her late cousin.

“There’s just one special person I should mention, and that’s Olivia’s cousin and soulmate Ashley Donohue.

‘Incredibly close’

“Although they were separated by over 6,000 miles they were incredibly close… you two guys departed this world together, side by side, and may you be together in God’s place and fondly look down on the rest of us.”

Ms Burke was understood to be a big fan of Wicklow singer Andrew Hozier-Byrne, and so the artist gave a fitting tribute by turning up to perform a live version of The Work Song.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, who had travelled to Berkeley to comfort the families of the injured and deceased last week, as well as US ambassador Kevin O’Malley and aides de camp for the President and Taoiseach.

Offering his own thoughts on a tragedy which took the lives of two parishioners, chief celebrant and Foxrock parish administrator Frank Herron acknowledged the anguish caused by such harrowing events.

“The thought of six young people dying so far away in such circumstances and the thought of their parents and siblings having to make the long journey to bring them back home has pained us all.

“Our community has been dealing with the absence of God - where was he when all this happened - and the presence of God all week. And we have experienced both,” he said, during the second funeral Mass to be held in the same church in two days following a service for Eimear Walsh (21) on Tuesday.

‘Extraordinary’ solidarity

“Our solidarity this week has been extraordinary and is a wonderful reflection of God’s solidarity with us all.”

Outside, former classmates from Loreto College stood together with Ms Burke’s colleagues from Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology as the coffin was carried to the tune of Amazing Grace.

Clutching one another tightly, her parents and brother then rejoined the cortege and departed to nearby Deansgrange Cemetery where a burial ceremony was held in the afternoon.