At the 9/11 commemoration ceremony held in Ringfinnan, Kinsale, Virgil Horgan welcomed everyone who attended, including the clergy, the county councillors, the members of the Kinsale History Society and the general public.
Mr Horgan said we all remember where we were when the Twin Towers disaster occurred on 9/11. On that day, 343 firemen from New York went into the Twin Towers and never came out again. They had given their lives in an attempt to save people. The firemen were all either of Irish or Italian extraction. They had all marched in the St Patrick’s Day parade down 5th Avenue some months previously.
He said; ‘The Garden of Remembrance here in Kinsale is dedicated to the 343 firemen on that fateful day and is also dedicated to their chaplain, Fr Michael Judge, who also died on 9/11. It is now 19 years since 9/11 and there were firemen who died of dustinhilation on 9/11, in the years following.
‘Last year a fireman’s widow from New York arrived in Ringfinnan, with her late husband’s ashes. He had died from dust inhilation and his wish was that his ashes would be scattered in the Garden. So his widow honoured her husband’s wishes, and scattered the ashes among the 343 trees which commemorated his fallen comrades who had given their lives so bravely on 9/11.’
There were messages of support from the US embassy in Dublin and Newport, Rhode Island, which is twinned with Kinsale, as well as emails from US visitors who visited over the years and had hoped to return this year. Prayers were recited by Rev Peter Rutherford and Father Stan Hessian with a minute’s silence before the traditional wreath was laid by Nellie, sister of the late Kathleen Murphy who established the Garden.
Mr Hogan concluded the ceremony on a personal note: ‘My late grandmother was born and reared here in Ringfinnan and, after 9/11, my cousin, Kathleen Murphy, telephoned me and said that when 9/11 occurred she was working as a nurse in Lennox Hospital, New York.
‘They prepared the beds for the injured and wounded, but no one came. They had all perished in the Twin Towers. It was through Kathleen’s initiative that the garden was planted with the 343 trees and a special tree for Fr Michael Judge.
‘We thank everyone who has visited the garden over the past 19 years and we look forward to commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in 2021 here in the Garden of Remembrance in Ringfinnan. May Kathleen, the firemen and Fr Judge rest in peace.’