Heartbreak in Berkeley

As many people already know, I lost one of my oldest and best friends in the accident in Berkeley the other day. Lorcán was nothing short of a gentleman. He has been known to show up at my house with several bags of crispy m&ms in the middle of the night after breakups or exam disappointments. We used to walk down by Shankill beach and pass two huge seafront houses. He was going to buy one, I was going to buy the other, and our kids would grow up as best friends. Ideally, two of our children would fall in love, and we’d have a few mutual grandchildren. He promised that if I asked him to be a bridesmaid at my wedding, he would wear a dress, or at least a matching suit. We’d spend hours on the beach talking. I’m struggling to remember what exactly we talked about for hours on end. Probably the normal stuff; relationships, college, exams, food, family, what we were doing next weekend. It all seems so trivial now, and I can’t help wondering if I told him enough how much he meant to me.

This tragedy has affected so many people. It’s hard to find someone who isn’t somehow connected to it. For many, it is the first time we have had to deal with the loss of a peer, and it’s not something anyone can plan for. It comes as a complete shock to the system. As I slowly come to terms with it, I find myself swinging between every emotion. Sadness, grief, loss, anger, bitterness, frustration, hysteria, calmness, and back to sadness. As I am currently in Vietnam, I try to find comfort in whatever familiarity I can find. I went hunting for a McDonalds yesterday, just so as not to feel so far away from home. With so many friends and family of the deceased scattered all over the world, I can only imagine the loneliness and helplessness people feel. 

My mom keeps telling me (over Skype) to think of all the good memories I have, and what he’d say to me in this situation. He always said I’m lucky I’m not an ugly crier, a high compliment at my lowest moments. So I guess he’d remind me of that again. When I went through a really hard time this year in college and felt very low, I confided in him about it. He told me that I’m one of the strongest and most resilient people he knows, and if anyone can come out smiling, I can. He loved meeting friends of mine. Several times he’d turn up at my house if I had friends around, regardless of whether he knew them (usually he didn’t), and he’d somehow become the centre of everything. Because of this, so many of my wide circle of friends have met Lorcán. I have received so many messages from friends, reminding me of their own experiences of him. People are so inherently kind and supportive, and that is really showing through, and something I am so grateful for.

Family was incredibly important to Lorcán. He adored his three younger siblings, and spoke non-stop of their latest school plays or spelling tests or birthday parties. He spoke with such admiration of his two parents Sinead and Ken, and I am thinking of them and praying for their strength constantly. He considered himself an extension of my family too. He was very fond of my parents and brother. They often knew as much about his love life as I did, and he would happily sit in with my parents and a G&T and spill his heart to them. I’m flying home from Vietnam later today to be surrounded by all the people who loved him as I did.

To all those who are grieving for the six young people, I am so so sorry for your pain. To the families and friends of those injured, I am constantly praying and wishing for their full recovery. To all the people who have contacted me over the past two days, thank you for your kindness. Everyone is in this together, and it seems as though every person in Ireland is shocked and saddened by the loss of six beautiful, bright people. Lorcán had so much more to give, but his achievements in life far exceeded the time he had. He brought immeasurable happiness and joy to me and so many others, something I am eternally grateful for. He will be in my heart always.  

Katie Wolahan



63 thoughts on “Heartbreak in Berkeley

  1. So beautiful, I didn’t know Lorcán or yourself but I feel so much pain of the loss you all will be feeling.. By reading all the comments about Lorcán you can tell he was a wonderful and loved person.

    I hope one day your pain will ease of his death.. But a friendship with you he took to his grave.
    RIP Lorcán may your young soul rest and watch over all the people that love you and Protect them.
    Always remember and never forget


  2. Such beautiful and heartfelt words he was lucky to have you in his life and you him ..the friendship that you shared will forever be i n your memory’s and they are what will help get you through this x


    1. Katie, he will always be near you in spirit. He will not leave your side. Talk to him, tell him your news etc and he will never ever be too far away. I lost my only sister and that is how I cope almost one year on. 🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥🐥


  3. Katie if I could I would put my arms around you and give you a huge hug, you had a beautiful friend and life is not fair. I sadly suffered personal loss through tragedy so can feel your and all those families loss. God Bless you in your deep sadness.x


  4. What beautiful words for your beautiful friend Lorcan. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and to all the families of the six. Also to the families of the injured. God Bless…

    I too am Irish from Dublin living in Canada these 50 yrs…


  5. What a beautiful poignant tribute to your friend Lorcan, may you find comfort in all your precious memories that you have made with him & live your life with him in your heart as I’m sure he would have wanted you to do. May God give you strength to get through the next few days & the weeks & months ahead. I’m sure he will be sending you strength too. Sincere sympathies


  6. Fantastic thing to say for who I am sure is a fantastic friend. I’m from Dublin living in Canada, this tragedy has reached every corner of this planet and brought tears and sorrow to so many people. May god bless each and every one of you.


  7. oh what a beautiful tribute to your lovely soul mate . may his heartbroken family and friends find some comfort in the lovely memories you all must have, RIP to all


  8. I’m so sorry for the loss of your very dear friend. this tragedy really has touched the hearts of so many. I feel so sad for the families and friends of all those involved, especially as all the victims lives were so intertwined. words don’t express, but you wrote a very lovely piece.

    I send you love and strength to get through your loss. It sounds like Lorcan was a really lovely guy, and loved you so Much. Good friends are so much of who we are and who we become, he will always be there in your heart xx


  9. Katie you were blessed to have known Lorcan – all of his life and to have had that wonderful bond. It’s OK to be sad, it’s ok to get mad and it’s ok to cry – a lot! Truth is, there is no why, there is no sense to this and there are no answers – right now. Time will make the pain less acute. The best tribute is to go on and do all of those things you both dreamed of. Be strong x


  10. This is a beautiful tribute to your friend. How blessed you are to have known this young man! Yes, this tragedy has touched the hearts of so many of us that did the J1 thing at one time. For me 20 years on now… I worked hard and partied hard too in the USA. Grateful to God to be here still. God bless //// “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding. in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”///


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