Hozier performs final song at funeral mass of Berkeley victim Olivia Burke
Published 24/06/2015 | 10:50
Award-winning singer Andrew Hozier-Byrne, otherwise known as Hozier, performed the final song at the funeral of Berkeley victim Olivia Burke this afternoon.
The singer and musician sang a slow, acoustic version of 'The Work Song' at the end of 'the celebration of Olivia's life'.
Twenty-one-year-old Olivia was one of six young students killed in the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley, California last week.
It is the second day of the funerals of the tragic victims in Ireland, following the burial of both Eimear Walsh and Eoghan Culligan yesterday.
Hundreds of family, friends and members of the local community joined Olivia’s parents Paula, Paul and her brother Gavin in mourning at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, in the parish of Foxrock, Dublin.
Olivia’s funeral mass opened with the hymn ‘Here I Am Lord’ and friends and relatives brought symbols of Olivia’s life to the mass.
These included a Loreto College journal to symbolise her time at her secondary school, a photo of Olivia and her dog King Charles Spaniel Skipper, a Ted Baker bag to symbolise her love of fashion and a throw that was given to Olivia for her 21st Birthday with her life in photos printed on it.
Olivia’s father, Paul Burke, paid an emotional tribute to his daughter and described her as ‘caring, considerate’ with a determination to succeed and a strong work ethic.
“I’ve spoken twice before a congregation like this; first at my father’s own funeral service and then at my mother’s service. I found my few words in front of a large gathering quite manageable to be honest. These were two good people who had experienced a full life, 80 and 85 years. This time around it is a challenge to stand here – no parent wishes to see their child part this life at such a tender age," he told the congregation.
“Not being able to see where Olivia’s potential journey would have taken her will certainly cause heartache in time to come.
“I would like to mention the overwhelming support on both sides of the Atlantic, in particular from our friends and family in San Francisco and our own extended family in Dublin and our great friends, work and school colleagues.
“This support has been manifested in the amazing turn-out for Olivia’s service today.
“I would like a special mention for the counsellors in San Francisco who played a pivotal part in the support, help, guidance and counsel, not just for the victims, but for the wider group of students," he continued.
“And also for the clergy we encountered, US clergy by the length of time on the ground but underneath it all, they were Irish.
“I actually made reference to Olivia’s service but I think in the context, we are really here for the celebration of Olivia’s life.
“She packed a lot into her short 21 years, in work experience, travel and friendships.”
Mr Burke spoke of how Olivia loved her school days in Sandymount and, later in secondary school, at Loreto College. He mentioned her friends from her many different social groups individually and said he was sure she will be looking down on them.
“She enjoyed Loreto College, six great years there and she made some wonderful friendships.
“They had a close-knit group and they enjoyed some great times.
“This close-knit group travelled to Vancouver after their first year of college and some undertook the Thailand/Vietnam in second year, which us parents dreaded but they came home in pretty good nick.
“Some of you set fare for the obligatory J1 trip post third year and I know you girls are hurting at the loss of Olivia and Eimear, two of your group.
“It’s been a pleasure knowing you girls over the years and I’m sure they’ll be smiling down on you and wishing you good luck.
“I also have a special mention for Aoife Beary, our prayers are with Angela, Mike and Aoife that she may recover over time.
“Listening to people comment about Olivia over the past week, we did notice the comments were consistent. It pleased us that they suggest she genuinely was a nice person, caring, considerate, more worried about your problems than chatting about her own, although she did love to chat.”
The congregation laughed as Mr Burke mentioned Olivia’s love of ‘a boogie’ on the dancefloor, but he said this was all balanced out by her strong work ethic.
“She encountered this high life with hard work and had a determination to be very self-reliant.
“Her work ethic could not be faulted. Her steely determination to succeed was ever-present, a work ethic I admired over the years.
“She enjoyed three great years at IADT, I know she would wish Clem and Ellen and the rest of the group the best of luck in fourth year.
“She mentioned before she went to the US that she was looking forward to her last year and that she was looking for a decent grade.
“The only grade she was worried about was her work internship at East Coast Radio as she put a lot of work into it, I hope she performed to scratch and I’m sure she did.”
Mr Burke also mentioned Olivia’s childhood friends from their family holidays in Wicklow where she had happy summer time memories.
“I know you guys will miss her dearly,” he said to her friends.
Mr Burke paid a special tribute to Olivia’s ‘cousin and soulmate’, Ashley Donohue, who was also killed in the tragic incident.
“Separated by over 6,000 miles, they were incredibly close,” he continued.
“From around at eighteen months old, all the way to recent years when they continued to trade trips to Ireland and San Francisco, none more exciting than the surprise arrival of Ashley to Olivia’s 18th birthday party.
“You two guys departed this world side by side, together in God’s place and may you look down on the rest of us.”
Mr Burke ended his tribute with words that were also spoken at his niece Ashley’s funeral.
“You are not forgotten loved one, nor will you ever be, as long as life and memories last, we will remember thee. We miss you now, our hearts are sore, as time goes by we miss you more.
“Your loving smile, your gentle face, no one can fill your vacant place.
“Olivia Burke, my darling, may you rest in peace.”
His final words were met with applause.
During the mass, Father Frank Herron described how the community of Foxrock have reached out to one another in the past week like never before.
“Last Tuesday evening at about 9 o’clock, the bells of our church tolled out the sad news of the tragic death of Olivia and Emer, two of our young parishioners as well as their 4 friends,” he told the funeral mass.
“We threw open the doors of our church and because of the constant stream of people, they have not closed before midnight since then. The thought of 6 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,” he continued.
“This week our community of Foxrock has reached out to each other probably as never before. In this building we looked for God and for each other.”
Fr Herron continued: "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.
"God is like a loving parent. You watch your children grow and mature and eventually move away from you. You do not love them any less in their absence.
"If anything you love them more and think about them every day. And you hope they think about you. It is the same with God. He loves us and we are constantly in his mind and heart even if we move away.
"It doesn’t matter. His love can’t change.
"But he is not a builder, an architect or an engineer.
"He leaves all that to us. He was there that night at the 21st birthday party. He was there as the young people gathered and as they enjoyed themselves. And he was there as the accident happened… falling with them.
"And he was there as some stepped from this world into eternity to embrace them and to take them back to where they came from; to where we all came from - back to the very heart of God.