Dublin event honours the thousands killed in 9/11 attacks

At least 18 Irish citizens were among the victims in New York 20 years ago
Dublin event honours the thousands killed in 9/11 attacks

By Cate McCurry, PA

The nearly 3,000 people and first responders killed in the 9/11 attacks have been honoured at an event in Dublin.

At least 18 Irish citizens were killed in the September 11th attacks.

Dennis Keeley, acting chief officer of Dublin Fire Brigade, and charge d’affaires Alexandra McKnight laid wreath at a memorial, which includes a piece of steel from the World Trade Centre.

Among those attending the event, hosted on the grounds of the US ambassador’s residence, was former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Joe Costello.

9/11 20th anniversary event in Dublin
US Marines Sgt Wagner Paul Jr, and Sgt Mitch Shurtliff, during a 20th-anniversary event at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Dublin to commemorate the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks (Brian Lawless/PA)

The ceremony began with artist Paul Byrom singing the Irish and American national anthems.

Mr Ahern, who was Taoiseach during 9/11 attacks, told those gathered that it was the worst day of terror.

“I’ll always remember that day, as everybody will. There are certain things in your life that you will always remember where you were,” he said.

“As we continue to remember as the years go on, so that new generations will understand the horrors of terror and of terrorists, of ideological people who tried to lead people to do terrible things in the world where most people just want to live.

“They want to be able to raise a family, they want to educate their children, they want to holiday, they want to work.

9/11 20th anniversary event in Dublin
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern speaking at the event (Brian Lawless/PA)

“There is always that small mindset who want to ruin everything, who, for ideological reasons, are not prepared to use political or democratic purposes to fight their philosophies of the world.

“So today we remember them and remember the thousands who have died, we remember the thousands who were affected and remember the communities.”

In the days that followed the attacks, thousands of people lined the street outside the US embassy in south Dublin to sign the books of condolence.

Speaking at the event, Ms McKnight, said: “The Irish-American friendship has been strong and constant, longer even than the United States of America.

“Our bond throughout history’s triumphs and tragedies has been unbroken, and our common roots grow deeper every year.


“When history visits America, as it did 20 years ago, the impact here in Ireland is immediate, and so is our solidarity.”

She added: “In recent weeks, many of us have felt equally powerful emotions as the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan has played out, a war that was born out of the 9/11 attacks.

“And though the war has ended, our efforts to help in Afghanistan and to confront terrorism will continue.”

Mr Keely said: “It’s 20 years since the terrible events of 9/11, and in that time events may have faded in the memory of some.

“But for so, so many, the pain of those events are as raw and as painful as they were 20 years ago.

9/11 20th anniversary event in Dublin
Charge d’affaires Alexandra McKnight (left) and Dennis Keeley, acting chief officer of Dublin Fire Brigade, lay wreaths (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Today’s memorial is a fitting tribute to all the victims and reminder, if one needed, of the lives lost and the sacrifices made by so many.

“We are here to honour and remember those almost 3,000 lives claimed by the attacks of September 11.

“As the chief fire officer in Dublin Fire Brigade, I am acutely aware of the bond and friendships between our nation’s first responders, statutory and voluntary agencies.

“The bond seen so often and demonstrated through the wonderful exchanges, comradery and friendships, of the fire, police service, paramedics and other responder agencies of our two nations.

“Friendships that have been built on over generations and with many of whom have Irish connections.

“Tragically, that bond further intertwined in the events of 9/11, with the estimated 1,000 people of Irish descent tragically lost in the violent events of the day.”

Kevin Gonzalez, the regional security officer at the embassy and senior security adviser to the charge d’affaires, said: “Speaking on behalf of US law enforcement and all US first responders in general, it is a great honour for me to be with you and commemorate a day that I know is difficult, not only for Americans, but for all our friends, all our allies and our partners as well.

“We will never forget the nearly 3,000 beautiful lives lost on that September morning, hundreds of which were given in service as a first responder.

“The stories and images of these public servants valiantly running into the fires, braving the thick veil of smoke and debris and putting themselves into harm’s way to save people they never knew, that they’d never even met and paying with the ultimate sacrifice, will always be with us.”

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