Keshcarrigan in County Letrim pays tribute to Father Mychal Judge, the first certified fatality of the 9/11 attacks, with the dedication of a memorial and peace park.
On the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, the people of Keshcarrigan, County Leitrim pay tribute to New York City Fire Department chaplain Father Mychal Judge who became the first official casualty of the terrorist attacks. The Franciscan priest died as he anointed a firefighter on September 11 in 2001.
Father Mychal Judge's father Michael Judge was born in Keshcarrigan and he emigrated to the United States of America in 1926. The idea for the memorial and peace park came from the Keshcarrigan Development Association. Funding for the project comes under the European Union Programme for Peace and Reconciliation, administered by the Leitrim County Council Task Force. Secretary of the Keshcarrigan Development Association Lorna MacCarthy says the whole community is behind the project,
It stated out as a project but it ended up as a labour of love.
Guest of honour at the ceremony is Father Mychal’s twin sister, Dympna Jessich. She welcomes the tribute to her brother and her father. She thinks Father Mychal would love to be at the event but,
He died doing what he loved and the nine years he spent with the Fire Department were the happiest years of his life.
Father Chris Keenan, Father Mychal’s successor as Chaplain to the New York City Fire Department is also in attendance at the ceremony,
This is a day not just to celebrate Mychal Judge and his family, but to celebrate everything Ireland represents, because the greatest export of Ireland has always been its people.
The Father Mychal Judge memorial and peace park is situated on donated land that once belonged to his family. It is hoped it will become an oasis of peace and meditation sending out a message of reconciliation throughout the world.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 11 September 2005. The reporter is Eileen Magnier.