Category: Archive

WTC Irish flag at Ar_s

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

The Irish tricolor flag recovered at Ground Zero and presented to President Mary McAleese has gone on display at her official Dublin residence, Ar_s an Uachtarain.

The flag, which was pulled from the ruins of the World Trade Center by a team of corrections officers, is being shown at the visitor’s center attached to the presidential home.

The story of how the flag was recovered and presented to the president is included in the display.

The corrections officers spotted the flag and first thought it was clothing. When it became apparent that it was an Irish flag, it was pulled delicately from the debris and ceremonially folded. All work in the immediate area ceased as the folding took place.

Meanwhile, the removal of one Irish flag from Ground Zero was merely a prelude to the arrival of another.

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By some estimates, close to half of those killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11 had some connection to Ireland. Cantor Fitzgerald, for example, was known in the bond business as an Irish outfit, more Fitzgerald than Kantor. The trade towers were full of Irish Americans and Irish born doing all manner of jobs on the morning of Sept. 11. And of course so many of those who rushed into the buildings to save lives after the planes hit were Irish too.

It was with this in mind that a number of carpenters, cops and firefighters decided that a special salute to the lost Irish at Ground Zero was appropriate.

So they got together and raised a tricolor at the site.

Ground Zero hasn’t got many flags despite the fact that people from over 60 countries died in the twin towers. What it does have is a memorial wall to the non-American dead.

The Irish flag is a tribute to the Irish-born and Irish American dead. It joined the Stars and Stripes and a lone Canadian flag on what is now hallowed ground.

Police Officer Chris Hunt, who has been seen duty at Ground Zero pretty well continuously over the last six months, said he felt the flying of the Irish flag was an absolutely appropriate gesture.

Also pleased to see the green, white and orange were Pat Joyce from County Mayo and David Dillane from Kerry, both members of Local 608, the carpenters union local which lost some of its own members at the trade towers on 9/11.

The flag was perched atop one of the many trailer offices lined up along the eastern perimeter of Ground Zero and only a few yards from the cross-shaped steel girder that was recovered and raised over the smoking trade tower ruins just after they were destroyed.

It was, all involved agreed, a most fitting salute to fallen Irish of Ground Zero.

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