Sunday 11 December 2016

A strange day as San Francisco celebrates . . . and mourns our dead at the same time

Aoife Anderson

Published 18/06/2015 | 02:30

A memorial for victims of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse stands at the scene
A memorial for victims of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse stands at the scene

The fact that San Francisco International Airport was lit up with blue and gold, the Golden State Warrior's colours, as devastated parents and siblings were touching down from Dublin is a particularly chilling juxtaposition.

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It was a strange day in the Bay Area yesterday. The whole city of San Francisco was celebrating the Warriors' NBA victory less than 24 hours after the six students fell to their deaths just across the bay. It is an enormous tragedy felt by many, but city life goes on for most people and the festivities are likely to continue for a few days, with a parade and rally tomorrow to honour the team who scooped their first basketball title in 40 years.

It doesn't mean locals don't care about the victims, the survivors, their families and friends, but it doesn't really resonate with the majority of people here the same way as it has for Irish immigrants, or perhaps the shaken community of Berkeley.

The candles, wreaths and tearful people at the scene are just a small vignette in the greater life of an area with a population of more than seven million.

Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Flowers and cards are left for victims from the Library Gardens apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Flowers are laid at a memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Flowers and cards mark a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Flowers and a framed photograph mark a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States (R) speaks to the media with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States (L) helps Neil Sands, President of the Irish Network Bay Area, lay an Irish flag atop two wreaths at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Neil Sands, President of the Irish Network Bay Area, pauses for a moment after laying an Irish flag atop two wreaths at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Visitors react as they visit a memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (C) stands next to Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States (L) and Berkeley Police officers before a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) participates in a wreath-laying ceremony with Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Neil Sands, President of the Irish Network Bay Area, lays an Irish flag atop two wreaths at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A man makes the sign of the cross over his heart after laying a bouquet of flowers near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Mary Elzy says a prayer for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, left, listens as Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland of the Western United States, speaks to reporters in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, left, hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland of the Western United States, after placing wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Toni Mikulka places flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A flag of Ireland is draped over wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Flowers and a map of Ireland are left at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, left, hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland of the Western United States, after placing wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, left, and Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland of the Western United States, walk in front of a building where a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Neil Sands of the Irish Network Bay Area places a flag of Ireland over wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland of the Western United States, left, and Neil Sands of the Irish Network Bay Area place a flag of Ireland over wreaths at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Read more: Berkeley Tragedy: Father whose son died in US hit-and-run offers to bring home Berkeley balcony victims

While the NBA game was played in Cleveland, Ohio, it was virtually impossible to get one of the 17,000 tickets to be part of the raucous sell-out crowd that filled the Warriors' Oracle Arena in Oakland on Tuesday night.

Nose-bleed seats at the local playoffs over the past two weeks were changing hands for a minimum of $800, so without sounding flippant, it would have taken something akin to the plot of the movie 'San Andreas' to put a stop to the street parties, firecrackers and occasional celebratory gunshots. One friend, from Westport, admitted: "It is weird how little people have acknowledged it here and perhaps the excitement of the Warriors just took over being able to dwell on it. It's so sad, but no one in work has said anything to me except two Irish co-workers."

Read more: 'It hit us like a tsunami' - Foxrock parish hold memorial for Irish students killed in Berkeley tragedy

A man makes the sign of the cross over his heart after laying a bouquet of flowers near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A man makes the sign of the cross over his heart after laying a bouquet of flowers near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
The remains of a damaged balcony are removed from a 4th-story apartment building balcony in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when the balcony collapsed early Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Flowers are laid at a memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Philip Grant, the Consul General of Ireland for the Western United States speaks at a news conference following a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Six people were killed, including five young Irish citizens, and at least seven other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Workers with BELFOR Restoration Company look at a fourth floor balcony railing as it rests on the balcony below at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Workers examine a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after the balcony fell near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Workers examine a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Police and fire and building officials were working to figure out why the roughly 5-by-10-foot concrete-floor balcony broke loose from the side of the stucco apartment building, situated a couple of blocks from the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The balcony that collapsed at an apartment building on Kittredge Street in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Six people were killed and seven others were taken to area hospitals. (D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group via AP)
A man who did not give his name leaves an item at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Three unidentified men stand at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police said several people were killed and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial for victims of a balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police said several people were killed and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Flowers and a cigarette box form a makeshift shrine near the area where a fourth floor balcony collapsed in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Two women embrace while watching sheriff's deputies move the body of a person who died when a fourth floor balcony collapsed in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The two said they knew the victims of the collapse. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Debris is seen on the sidewalk below a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Damage is seen at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Debris is seen on the sidewalk below a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Berkeley Police officers confer at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Damage is seen at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Security guards stand at an entry outside of Highland Hospital, where some victims from a balcony that collapsed were taken, Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
BERKELEY, CA - JUNE 16: A section of collapsed balcony remains on the front of an apartment building new UC Berkeley on June 16, 2015 in Berkeley, California. 5 people were killed and 8 were seriously injured when a balcony collapsed at an apartment building near the University of California at Berkeley campus. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Two women embrace while watching sheriff's deputies move the body of a person who died when a fourth floor balcony collapsed in Berkeley, Calif. on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The two said they knew the victims of the collapse. Berkeley police say several people are dead and others injured after a balcony fell shortly before 1 a.m., near the University of California, Berkeley. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Damage is seen at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Damage is seen at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California June 16, 2015. Five young Irish citizens were killed and at least eight other people were injured when an apartment balcony collapsed early on Tuesday in the Californian city of Berkeley, Ireland's foreign minister said. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
The scene at Berkeley pic: NBC
The scene at Berkeley pic: NBC

But very few people are actually from San Francisco. Like the majority of the US, it is built and loved by immigrants. Aside from a few handfuls of friends from Oakland, Berkeley, or South Bay suburbs like Menlo Park and Los Gatos, most of the people I know and meet are from elsewhere.

Family

The majority of people know what it's like to be so far away from your family that in many ways your friends become your family.

This is also the tech capital of the world, where few ideas are too big, the hours are long and the rents are extra high, but everyone here appreciates an opportunity to have a good time.

Read more: Deenihan travels to Berkeley to show solidarity

When the sun is out or the nights are warm, you'll find most people clambering to find a roof-deck, garden or balcony to sit out on and enjoy a few drinks - just like Olivia, Eoghan, Niccolai, Lorcán, Eimear and Ashley.

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