Sir-In a week where we have been all left reeling in shock in the aftermath of the Berkeley tragedy I have to say that I was so proud of the young Irish students in California with the dignity in which they organised and carried out the candlelit vigil in complete silence in the park
near the apartment.
Sometimes silence carries a lot more meaning than endless talking, and the fact they were able to draw together in their grief and do their best to remember their college mates and friends in an appropriate manner was fantastic.
I think every parent in the country empathised with them on hearing the horrendous news on Tuesday. So many of us have sent our children off on these trips and they serve a great purpose in making them a bit more independent, letting them see a bit more of the world. It is totally right that they should fly the nest - and hopefully this appalling tragedy won't stop parents letting them go.
Sometimes there tends to be negative publicity about our young people - but it was inspiring to read of how one boy managed to block the fall of a young Irish girl, and in so doing suffer great injury himself.
There are long hard roads ahead and I have no doubt that over the months ahead the same courageous young people will continue to help the families of the bereaved by way of visiting and calling them and sharing happy memories.
We have lost six lovely talented youngsters who had their whole lives ahead of them. Hopefully their families will be able to focus on the happy memories and on what they had achieved to date.
Thin line between life and death
Sir - That dark, dark day in Berkeley brought light to all of us - light to appreciate the thin line between life and death.
A distraught friend told my wife that her nephew had been with those six J1 students in California and was to go to the party that night. Fortunately he felt too tired after a hard day's work on the buildings and didn't go. Providence saved him.
Life is real and the future not ours to see!
Let us pray for all concerned
Sir, What a terrible tragedy has unfolded in the USA with the death of the Irish students and the injuring and maiming of so many more.
Those youngsters went over there with the intention of having a holiday and earning a few dollars to save and maybe pay to further their studies on returning to Ireland. They would have been so delighted to meet up with some of their mates at a 21st party, and it would help to compensate for the loneliness of leaving their friends and families at home in Ireland for the summer months.
Sometimes we think our youngsters are half mad the way they act, but as a good friend of mine - now deceased - once said to me: "Did not your parents think you were half mad also when you were growing up?" I had to agree with him.
Each generation is no more advanced in that way than the one before, though technology moves so fast that the older members of society are continuously bamboozled by it.
Our children may not all attend mass and can be annoying from time to time - but it is so encouraging to see how they all rally round in times of crisis. It is so nice to see them consoling each other in the aftermath of this latest tragedy.
As someone whose family members have been to the US on student work visas, and who had very good jobs whilst over there and earned money to pay for their next year in college, but still had time to enjoy themselves, I can understand the worry of parents in the same situation.
My heart goes out to the families in this tragedy, who now have to make the journey themselves in the most awful circumstances. May God console them and all we can do is say a little prayer for all concerned.