Category: Archive

Friends lost

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The dancer, Eithne Walls (28), who was also a qualified doctor, spent a year with the Riverdance troupe in New York before studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin.
She was one of three Trinity medical graduates, all close friends, who were on board the Air France plane that went down while en route from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to Paris with 228 passengers and crew on board.
Reports at presstime also stated that two Aer Lingus employees were on the lost Airbus A330 but initial indications were that the two were not Irish nationals. There were two U.S. citizens reportedly on board Flight AF 447.
Walls, from Ballygowan County Down, worked in the Dublin Eye and Ear Hospital.
Dancing teacher Aine Rooney from Belfast, who spent her early years dancing with Walls said that Walls was “a beautiful person. She had the most caring, kind personality.”
Walls was just one of three young Irish women, all medical doctors, friends and fellow Trinity graduates, who were on board the jetliner.
Aisling Butler, from Roscrea, County Tipperary, Jane Deasy from Rathgar, Dublin and Walls were returning from holiday in Brazil. The three, all in their 20s, graduated from Trinity.
The provost of Trinity said in a statement that staff and students at the university were “stunned” at the news.
Dr. John Hegarty said the thoughts of the entire university were with the families and friends of the three young women.
“The college, and in particular the staff and students of the school of medicine, extend their deepest sympathies to the Butler, Deasy and Walls families at this most difficult time,” Hegarty said.
“The loss of such young, vibrant and promising women at the outset of their careers in medicine and in such tragic circumstances has stunned the college from which they so recently graduated. Our thoughts are with the families and their classmates.”
Meanwhile, Eithne Walls’ family have spoken of their heartache at the loss of their “extraordinary and beautiful” daughter.
“It is with the heaviest and saddest of hearts that the Walls family confirm the loss of their dearest daughter and sister, Eithne,” the family said.
“Eithne was an extraordinary person who brought light to the lives of everyone she touched.
“She was beautiful in every way, especially of spirit. She had a passion for life that permeated, enlivened and enriched those around her. We feel privileged to have shared her too short life, and the countless memories of her will stay with us forever.”
On Tuesday, her grieving parents and her siblings, Kathryn, Raymond and Gerard, appealed for privacy as they come to terms with their loss.
“She had many hopes for her life, and was looking forward to the exciting journey to fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an eye surgeon,” they said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of her dearest friends, Jane and Aisling, who are suffering this same inconsolable loss. Many people have known Eithne through Irish dancing, a passion she had continued throughout her studies and into her professional life.
“We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from so many family and friends in our community and throughout the world.”
Merle Frimark, spokesperson for Riverdance, said that everyone associated with the show was deeply shocked and saddened.
“Eithne joined Riverdance in 1998 as a member of the flying squad. She performed on Broadway for the entire run of “Riverdance: The Show,” and she had been doing the show in Dublin as recently as 2004, before she decided to go to medical school and become a doctor.
“She was full of life, a lovely, talented dancer and a lovely young girl. Everyone at Riverdance is in mourning. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
“For 18 months she lived and worked in New York and like the entire company of Riverdance, became a New Yorker.”
A statement on behalf of 26-year-old Aisling Butler said her parents, John and Evelyn, and her sister Lorna, were trying to absorb the shocking news and their thoughts were also with the families of other passengers and, in particular, Aisling’s friends Jane Deasy and Eithne Walls.
“Her most recent position has been in the accident and emergency unit of Tallaght hospital having previously worked in both Limerick Regional and Portlaoise Hospitals. She was shortly to commence tenure in St. James’s Hospital, Dublin,” a statement released on behalf of the Butler family said.
The statement said Butler was very talented, a high achiever with a very promising career.
“She was also full of fun, caring and kind, a devoted daughter and sister.”
Soon after the Airbus was reported as missing, Irish foreign affairs minister Miche_l Martin said that officials from his department had “regrettably confirmed” that three Irish citizens were on the passenger manifest
Irish embassies in France and Brazil were in contact with the authorities investigating the disappearance of the flight, Martin said.

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