Balcony collapse: Tributes to Irish students who died

Tributes have been paid to the six students, five of them from the Republic of Ireland, who died after a balcony collapsed during a birthday party in Berkeley, California.

They were: Olivia Burke, 21; Eoghan Culligan, 21; Niccolai Schuster, 21; Lorcan Miller, 21 and Eimear Walsh, 21, all with addresses in the Republic of Ireland, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, from Rohnert Park, California.

Olivia Burke

Olivia Burke has been remembered as a very well-liked student at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT).

The Foxrock woman was due back at the south Dublin college in September to start her final year of a degree in entrepreneurship and management.

Dr Annie Doona, IADT president, said counsellors were on hand for friends and family turning up at the college to remember her.

"It's a very sad day here for her fellow students and for the staff," she said.

"Olivia was very well respected, very well liked and had been doing really well on the course."

Olivia was one of up to 30 students from IADT who go to the US every year on a J1 summer working holiday visa.

"She was working in a restaurant in Ireland before she went out and our understanding is that she had a job in a sushi restaurant in California," said Dr Doona.

Olivia had completed a five month placement at East Coast Radio in Ireland recently, where colleagues praised as a "bright, bubbly, young kid".

Dr Doona added: "She was doing very well, and enjoying herself and making great friends. It's terribly sad."

Eoghan Culligan

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Eoghan Culligan was studying at the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he had finished his third year in logistics and supply chain management.

College president Prof Brian Norton said: "The sadness felt at this tragedy reaches far beyond those who knew the students personally.

"We know that this is a very difficult time for many students, both at home and those who are travelling for the summer holidays."

Eoghan was also a highly regarded Gaelic football player and turned out for Ballyboden St Enda's in a county final in 2011.

A statement on the club's website expressed "great regret and sadness" at his death.

"Eoghan was very popular with his team-mates and this tragic news is keenly felt by all members of our club, but especially by those players and mentors who knew him well," the statement said.

"We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his parents, Gerry and Marie, and to his brothers, Stephen and Andrew, and to all the extended Culligan family.

"May we take this opportunity of extending our sympathies to all the families of Eoghan's friends who also lost their lives in this terrible tragedy and to wish those who are injured eventual recovery to full health."

Niccolai Schuster

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Niccolai Schuster was 21 years old and from Terenure in south Dublin.

He and Eoghan Culligan were former students of St Mary's College in Rathmines.

The college said in a statement: "The thoughts and prayers of everybody in the St Mary's community are with the families of Niccolai and Eoghan, and the other Irish youngsters who died or were injured in the heartbreaking accident in the United States."

Niccolai was the grand-nephew of the late Irish playwright John B Keane.

Lorcan Miller

Lorcan Miller was a former pupil at St Andrew's College in Booterstown, south Dublin, where his mother had taught Irish, and he had gone on to study medicine in UCD.

Headmaster Peter Fraser recalled him as an exceptional person.

"The one thing speaking to colleagues this morning was the fact that he was a positive, engaging, decent boy who was incredibly talented, but normal, modest and balanced about it all," he said.

"He was hugely popular."

Lorcan was deputy head boy in his final school year before leaving for college in 2012.

"He would have been very well known by almost everyone in the college, and in such a big school that's quite an achievement. He had a rounded talent. He was very keen on issues of social awareness and social conscience," Mr Fraser said.

Lorcan played on the school hockey team, had roles in the choir and musicals and also took key positions in the school's Model United Nations.

Eimear Walsh

Eimear Walsh, was a medical student at UCD, and was a former classmate at Loreto College in Foxrock, south Dublin, of Olivia Burke.

In a statement, the school said it was "deeply saddened and shocked" by the Berkeley tragedy.

"We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of Olivia and Eimear, and to the families of the other students who died," a spokeswoman said.

"Please keep in your thoughts and prayers all those who have been injured and affected by this terrible tragedy."

The Church of Our Lady of Foxrock held a vigil in the aftermath of the tragedy as Ms Walsh and Ms Burke, were from the area.

Parish priest Frank Herron, who knows Ms Walsh's family, said the community was deeply shocked and saddened by what had happened.

He said: "The tragedy is that they were heading out full of life and full of the joys of summer.

"I was talking to one of the families whom I know well and they of course are distraught."

Ashley Donohoe

Ashley Donohoe was an Irish-American from the Californian city of Rohnert Park. about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

The 22-year-old was a student at Sonoma State University.

She graduated in 2011 from Rancho Cotate High School, and assistant principal Josh Wilson described her as "outgoing and well-respected".

"She was a great student, not to mention a phenomenal soccer player. I knew she had a bright future ahead of her, which just compounds the tragedy that just occurred," he told the Press Democrat.

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