There aren't many events which have the power to unite the Oireachtas, to silence the eternal sniping between the ever-warring parties, to engender a rare air of solidarity.
But the heart-breaking tragedy in Berkeley, which took the lives of six young men and women and which left seven others broken and maimed on an American city street has that power. The sorrow, the shock and sense of loss which swept the country also suffused the corridors of Leinster House.
With the Tricolour at half-mast on the roof, nobody under its shadow could summon up the heart for the usual pitched battles. The guns were stilled as Leaders' Questions began.
The Taoiseach, as he instinctively does when empathy is required, went to the core of the wave of emotion sparked by the horrific deaths. "When you look at the papers this morning, don't you see the faces of your own children, sons and daughters at the start of this great adventure of life?" he asked the sombre faces around the chamber.
It was a question which went straight to the heart of the country's grief.
And so there were no objections, only unanimous assent when the Taoiseach proposed that the party and group leaders would make statements on the tragedy after Leaders' Questions, followed by a suspension of the business of the House until the afternoon. There was that feeling of wanting to be doing something, anything to declare support for those in distress on a distant shore.
"This is not a day for normal engagement," agreed Micheál Martin, who confined himself to asking Enda for assurances that the Government would continue to offer every support to all affected by the tragedy. "We as a State must ensure that every possible assistance is given to the families".
Gerry Adams, a man graced with exquisite empathy, saw no reason not to proceed with his line of questioning as planned, quizzing Enda over the plight of the Clerys' workers. After Leaders' Questions, even seasoned political speakers grappled to find words to express their sadness at the cruelty of fate; a band of bright young adults laughing under a night sky, horizons of possibility stretched before them, dashed brutally to earth in an instant.
A subdued Tánaiste recalled her own excitement when she travelled to America as a J1 student. "For a lot of young people, it is a summer of love and a summer of fun," she said.
Then everyone stood for a minute's silence: TDs, visitors in the public gallery, Oireachtas staff and journalists. No sound could be heard, save for the loud ticking of the chamber's clock measuring out time - time which six bright and beautiful sons and daughters of Ireland should have had so much more of, to laugh and love and live.
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.
The news of the appalling tragedy in Berkeley, California, this week struck me first and foremost as a father of two young girls, one of whom is in college. My heart goes out to the families and friends who have suffered such a tragic loss.
As grieving families and the injured struggle in the aftermath of the Berkeley balcony collapse, a number of American law firms have already begun considering possible compensation claims down the line.
THE builders of the apartment complex where a balcony collapsed, killing six Irish students, paid $3m to settle a lawsuit last year that claimed problems with dry rot and substandard balconies in another complex.
Almost 24 hours after the news of the horrific accident in Berkeley which has robbed us of six of our young people and turned the lives of others completely upside down, I feel like I am drowning in the media coverage which, in reality, is not saying anything new. Because what is there to say?
Hundreds of students, friends and family united in grief as a special mass was held in St Mary's College, Rathmines, in honour of two past pupils who lost their lives in the Berkeley tragedy.
Dozens of friends, colleagues and fellow students of two women who tragically lost their lives after a balcony collapse in the US visited the Foxrock parish church this afternoon to sign a book of condolences that had been laid out.