By Stephen McKinley
Around Ireland, people have responded in many ways to the tragedy of the World Trade Center. In Donegal, the Tirconnaill Tribune newspaper printed an opinion piece from a former Ramelton resident, the American writer Dale Ludwig.
Writing an open letter to his former neighbors in County Donegal, he said: “the mental aftershock still lingers. Something else lingers as well. People all around here seem to feel it. A closeness. Hardly any horns blowing. People seem mentally connected with one another. It takes me back to Ramelton, to the Bridge Bar, to the Mall, to Whoriskey’s Market — not so much the buildings as to the people we connected with.”
Meanwhile, the most Rev. Philip Boyce, bishop of Raphoe, described the events of last Tuesday in the United States as “a dark day in the history of humanity and a terrible affront to human dignity.”
The World Trade Center tragedy penetrated Fermanagh’s vale of tranquility, too. A former Fermanagh resident, Father Sean McManus, lives in Washington, D.C., and told the Fermanagh Herald: “I think there will be swift and terrible retaliation and this is the problem with the cycle of violence. No American is cowed by this; it does in fact the very opposite, and, of course, if America takes terrible retaliation, there will be further counter-retaliation. I hope to God it doesn’t get out of hand.”
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Several other Fermanagh people were witnesses to the attacks in New York City, like Paul Maguire, from Ballyreagh, Tempo.
Paul actually saw the first plane crash into the World Trade Center’s north tower.
From Tempo, his mother said that Paul was a construction worker in a tall building several miles from the twin towers.
He had turned to a work colleague remarking on the low-flying plane when it crashed.
DARK DAYS FOR IRISH TOURISM
In Waterford, readers of the Munster Express were gripped by the eyewitness account of the tragedy written by Kalle Ryan, a 26-year-old immigrant from Viewmount. This week he wrote about how the city of New York was coping.
“These are dark days we are living through, of that much I am certain, but if anyone can come back after a catastrophe such as this, then it has to be New York,” he wrote. “Tough times are still ahead, but I put my faith in New York being reborn even brighter and better than before, for the majesty of New York is unparalleled in the world.”
The Munster Express also reports on the effect of the WTC attacks on tourism to Ireland. According to South East Tourism’s Head of Marketing and Development, Gary Breen, the impact has been massive already — cancellations from the U.S. have been almost total in the past week. Breen added that the region was highly dependent on tourism, as the Waterford Crystal factory made it an attractive destination.
Based on the Gulf War experience, the tourism trade takes years to rebound, Breen said.
In Lisburn, Eleina McKeown is anxiously waiting for news of her friend Aldo, a New Jersey firefighter whom she believes may have been caught up in the World Trade Center tragedy.
She met him while working in New Jersey this summer. McKeown was also among the last tourists to have visited the World Trade Center. She had taken the elevator up to the top at around 9:30 p.m. on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 9.
McKeown left for home on Monday and learned of the attacks Tuesday afternoon.
A Cork woman, Rosemary O’Sullivan, has had to cope with pondering the fact that she worked in the twin towers, and almost certainly would still work there, had she not recently moved back to Ireland with her husband, Noel.
O’Sulliven was an employee with the Fiduciary Investment company, and vividly remembers the 1993 bombing. In this much greater tragedy, 85 of her former colleagues are missing and two of her former bosses are confirmed dead.
“I do feel very lucky. I have to say I do,” Rosemary told Inside Cork.
Also in Cork, the corporation that runs the city organized a car-free day last weekend. The Cork Energy Agency also helped with the initiative, which started in France in 1997 and has spread throughout Europe ever since.
The initiative will encourage the public to walk or cycle, or make use of public transport.
The Clare Champion, in the news business since 1903, was one of several newspapers which followed the Irish Times’ lead and did not publish on the National Day of Mourning.