Thursday 22 February 2018

Sister of Berkeley victim 'hopes to do her proud' as Rose

Amanda Donohoe
Amanda Donohoe
Ashley Donohoe
Olivia Burke
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A young woman who lost her sister and cousin in the Berkeley balcony collapse hopes to "make them proud" when she takes to the stage at this year's 58th Rose of Tralee Festival.

San Francisco Rose Amanda Donohoe (19) lost her sister Ashley and her cousin Olivia Burke on June 16, 2015, when the fourth-floor balcony of a rented apartment collapsed.

Students Eimear Walsh, Lorcan Miller, Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan were also killed in the tragedy.

Physics student Ms Donohoe said both she and her sister dreamt of taking part in the festival since they were children.

Ashley Donohoe
Ashley Donohoe

She said she grew up watching the Rose of Tralee with their grandmother.

"When I was younger and over visiting Ireland, my uncle would always say to everyone that my sister and I were going to be Roses one day.

"Unfortunately, Ashley never got the opportunity to apply to be a Rose but she would have been so happy for me as she was always my biggest supporter.

"They [Ashley and Olivia] were both always my biggest champions so I can only imagine how excited they would be for me."

Olivia Burke
Olivia Burke

She says her family has become stronger in the wake of the tragedy.

"Our family has become closer and stronger than ever and I'm so excited to represent them in the festival and make them proud."

She is also determined to show the judging panel that the tragedy has not defined her life.

"What happened within my family is a big part of my life, but my own achievements define me much more as a person and it's better to focus on how people handle situations rather than the circumstances themselves."

She added that having "the support and love of my whole family has allowed me to push myself to achieve great things".

The contest runs from August 16-22.

Irish Independent

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