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New York firefighters visit 911 memorial

September 10th, 2023 10:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

New York firefighters visit 911 memorial Image
Members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) at the 9/11 memorial at Ringfinnan. (Photo: Gearoid Holland)

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By Olivia Kelleher


THE Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band of the New York Fire Department (FDNY) and active and retired firefighters from the city visited the 9-11 Garden of Remembrance in Ringfinnan outside Kinsale last Thursday to pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack of 2001.

Dunmanway-based historian Michelle O’Mahony, who spoke at the wreath-laying ceremony, said that it was a ‘poignant and emotive day,’ especially for the band whose visit coincided with the 61st anniversary of their inauguration. ‘For many it is your first visit to this garden to commemorate family, friends and loved ones. It is a serene place that cannot adequately be put into words. Words fail me, on what it means to you all. Remember today that not only are you here among your loved one’s memory, you are now here with friends, old and new,’ said Ms O’Mahony.

‘Each person gathered here has been moved by the tragedy that unfolded that dreadful day and we stand side by side with you, shoulder to shoulder, united with you in a spirit of comradeship extending a very Irish welcome to you all,’ she continued.

The garden was created by Rathfinnan native, the late Kathleen Murphy.  At the time of the Twin Towers collapse she was a nurse in Lennox Hospital in New York, and helped prepare beds for the injured firemen.

The disaster took the lives of 343 firefighters along with their chaplain, Fr Mychal Judge, who had rushed to the scene of the attack. The garden in Kinsale is dedicated to their memory with each individual tree displaying a name plate in honour of each of the fallen heroes. Addressing those in attendance were Virgil Horgan, a cousin of Kathleen Murphy, John Murphy, owner of the garden, Captain Tom Cunneen of the FDNY and Cllr Sean O’Donovan, chair of the Bandon Kinsale Municipal District.

The song Sky Belongs to Dreamers by Dave McGilton, inspired by the iconic image of Fr Judge’s body being removed in a chair from ground zero, was played at the event.

A poem called Keepers of Sorrow was read by Jer Aherne, keeper of the garden, who often meets relatives of the deceased in the garden.  The poem was written by Rosie Seminara while driving into Manhattan as the smoke was still rising from the embers of the fallen towers.

The event included a wreath-laying ceremony and a minute’s silence, with firefighters from Kinsale and members of the Organisation for National Ex-Service Personnel of the Defence Forces also in attendance.

The wreath was laid by senior group members Eddie Geraghty and Tommy MacEnroe Jr. Tommy was pipe major in 2001 and played at each funeral and memorial of the fallen.

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