Originally conceived in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Art McGann and Carl Corcoran's moving musical piece The Phoenix has been reimagined by vocal band Ardú ahead of the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001 - watch it above.

Below, Carl revisits the inspiration for The Phoenix...

I was home from America barely two years when the world changed, on that sunny Autumnal morning (afternoon Irish time). We all remember too well the stark images of the planes flying into the iconic Twin Towers, the subsequent collapse of the buildings and devastation and horror visited upon New York and other East Coast locations. I watched, in disbelief, a city and population thrown into chaos and Armageddon-like numbness.

I had called New York my home for the previous twenty years, frequently and proudly, escorting visiting family and friends to the various landmark locations of my 'adopted city'. Two regular and essential highlights on the tourist itinerary were The Statue of Liberty, ‘The Lady of the Harbour’ and the Observation Deck on the South Tower – where we viewed the stunning panorama of the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

I made my living playing music in concert, clubs, bars, and private venues to audiences, mostly with Irish American backgrounds and loyalties. Many of those were members of New York Police and Fire Departments. And as I watched the ensuing video footage from that tragic day and its aftermath, I couldn’t help but wonder how many did I know. As it turned out, I knew quite a few and still mourn their loss.

Carl Corcoran in Keshcarrigan

In the two-year transition period adjusting to life back home in Ireland after the twenty-year NY sojourn, I made regular trips back to the States to maintain a profile of sorts, in case the ‘move home’ didn’t work out. Only 18 months before September 2001, I played at a private corporate event (as I had every St. Patrick’s Day - a celebration that invariably lasted weeks) organised by ‘Wall Street Friends of Ireland’ at a fancy venue in the World Trade Center complex. That same building was one of those that was obliterated in the attack, and with it perhaps, many of those in attendance at this event (and the many others I had played before).

I’m a songwriter – a music maker – and my response to any emotional experience is to convey and express those emotions in a song or a music composition. This was no exception – in fact it was stronger than ever. I had worked with lyricist Art McGann (my first cousin) on many occasions, starting with pop songs for my alter-ego, Jamie Stone back in the 70s. We had continued to collaborate throughout my life in New York – one of our songs dealt with immigration and the Vietnam Conflict. Legendary balladeer Danny Doyle interpreted The Rose of Saigon beautifully on his Under A Connemara Moon album. And so we set out to channel our feelings of grief and loss into a work that turned out to be The Phoenix. Art is a master of words and beautifully captured emotions of the time, responding to an evocative melody that I had been inspired to create.

His words encapsulate the images of a tragic day, including ‘images’ of Fr. Mychal Judge ofm, Chaplin to FDNY and son of immigrants from Leitrim, while celebrating the resilient nature of mankind, and in particular America at this time. A memorial garden in his honour is located just outside the village of Keshcarrigan, on land once serving as the Judge ancestral home. The lyric echoes the words of Emma Lazarus on the plaque of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’. The music reflects the spirit of strength and defiance of the aftermath rather than the shock of the day – hence the title The Phoenix.

I'm a songwriter – a music maker – and my response to any emotional experience is to convey and express those emotions in a song or a music composition. This was no exception – in fact it was stronger than ever.

Ciarán Kelly's beautiful arrangement captures the essence of our endeavours. The stunning performance by Ardú, first performed in a virtual concert as part of the MusicTown 21 festival is captured in a video collage of live concert footage, punctuated with stark remembrances of the tragic day but also with images depicting hope, human kindness, compassion, unity and resilience.

Today, on that same site, the 9/11 Memorial Site and Museum clearly states it’s intention, standing ‘as a beacon of healing and renewal – a physical embodiment of the compassion we showed to one another, the resolve we demonstrated to the world, and how, in the face of unfathomable loss, we rose as one.’

Vocal ensemble Ardu perform the new version of The Phoenix

The Lady of The Harbour, with her lantern held high, has a been a beacon of hope, resilience and welcome for nearly 150 years, watching momentous events unfold before her – from the 12 millions immigrants that entered through Ellis, to the tragic images of 9/11, now to the new World Trade Center proudly standing at the tip of Manhattan Island. She once again provides a guiding light.

To quote the final line of The Phoenix....

‘We will resurrect with honour

Put our faith upon her

Let the Lantern shine on high.’