Friday 21 October 2016

Joy turns to sadness as school prays for former pupils

Published 18/06/2015 | 02:30

Foxrock parish priest Father Frank Herron
Foxrock parish priest Father Frank Herron

What was a scene of a joyful graduation celebration just weeks ago was last night the setting for heartbreak as hundreds gathered in Loretto Foxrock to pay their respects their friends who tragically lost their lives in the US.

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Up to 800 mourners flocked to the school assembly hall, making their way down the same corridors tragic past pupils Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke (both 21) used to travel down.

Aoife Beary (21), who is fighting for her life following the 40ft balcony fall, also went to the school.

Speaking at the heart-wrenching service, Foxrock parish priest Father Frank Herron remembered the graduation service he had celebrated in the hall just weeks earlier.

"That was a happy occasion," he said. "We were all here together in this very same room. We were surrounded with joy, laughter and music.

"Today there will be none, but one thing remains the same, and that is that we are here together."

Read more: Friends who bonded in school, on the sports field and in college lecture halls

Fr Herron told those gathered while it is has been an extremely difficult time, they can get through the tragedy together.

"That is what this is, an accident and a tragedy. Nobody is to blame; accidents happen. We will move through this," he said.

The priest said the night before there had been "a spontaneous gathering of people" in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church in Foxrock, with people there at 1.30am.

"We decided that we would open the church not expecting to get many people. What happened next was extraordinary," he said.

"People started coming, some on foot, some in cars. They lit candles and prayed. There were a few musicians. I have never been as proud of a parish. That is what a parish is. That is what a community is."

Read more: Dáil war stops as all sides stand united in mourning

The church remained open throughout yesterday, and Dublin GAA star Jack McCaffrey, who was on the same college course as Ms Walsh in UCD, was among those who signed the Book of Condolences.

Thousands have also signed Books of Condolences which have opened in Dublin's Mansion House, St Patrick's Cathedral, and in Galway and Cork.

University College Dublin - where the majority of the students attended - also opened an online book.

Elsewhere a special service which will be attended by the country's TDs and senators is being being organised as a tribute to the Berkeley victims.

The service, to be held early next wek, will be open to members of the public.

Irish Independent

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