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A deep sorrow all over Ireland
  Irish Voice   2001-09-26 00:00:00+01

THE connections between Ireland and New York are so close that almost every weekly provincial paper in Ireland carried a story about a local or American-born relatives of local families who perished or narrowly escaped in the World Trade Center disaster.

Across the pages of the provincial papers, there were stories of survival, loss, grief and relief and many accounts of Irish people in America who were near or part of the tragedy.

As the Mid Ulster Observer reported, "Over the centuries the United States and particularly New York has been a haven from oppression and famine for thousands upon thousands of Irish people."

It reveals what all Irish people know to be true - that there are few families in Ireland without relatives in the United States.

The Observer tells two stories of eyewitness accounts.

Jimmy Loughran from Cookstown was working on the 34th floor of one of the towers when tragedy struck. He escaped to within an inch of his life.

Mark O'Loughlin from Maghera was in Washington, D.C. when the attack on the Pentagon occurred but was fortunate enough to be far away from the building.

Sadly Sean Canavan, whose parents are from Ballygawley in Co. Tyrone, was especially remembered. A carpenter working on the 94th floor, Sean was a cousin of Tyrone footballers Peter and Paschal and is reported missing.

The Longford Leader said: "If anybody ever doubted the close connections between Ireland and America then the past week should have left them in no doubt.

"Constant emigration, particularly from counties like Longford, Leitrim and Cavan, over the past 150 years has ensured that all over America, but particularly in the greater New York area, there are now thousands of people with connections to this part of Ireland.

"It was no wonder therefore that when tragedy struck New York and Washington on Tuesday, 11 September, 2001 the people of Longford and adjoining counties felt almost as if the tragedy had occurred in their own county."

Sadly, that feeling was reinforced a couple of days after the New York disaster when word came through that some Longford natives had been among the victims and among those heroes who helped with the rescue.

The Longford News told of Joe Donovan, the New York firefighter who "has plans to renovate Newcastle House in Longford."

Donovan, according to the News, has been down on Ground Zero for the most part of the rescue effort and has done marvelous work.

The Clare Champion led with: "Clare Concern for missing Irish." A New York firefighter who is missing, Bobby Linnane, was the son of the late Brodie Coughlan from Lissycassey, the report noted.

The Anglo Celt in Cavan describes some locals as fearing for their illegal loved ones in the U.S.

"According to Sinn Fein TD (Member of Parliament) Caimoghin O Caolain, relatives and friends of some of the Irish people missing or unaccounted for in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center were experiencing difficulty in finding out about their loved ones. That was because they were working without legal status in the U.S."

The Wexford People simply gave its entire front page over to a lonely picture of a deserted Wexford town on the day that Ireland stood still in memory of those that died or were lost in the tragedy.

In the Westmeath Examiner readers were told of an Athlone mother who had an anxious wait when she heard the news on the Liveline radio program that two planes hit the World Trade Center in New York. "Nancy McManus was in her Baylough home when news broke of the disaster. Her immediate concern was for the safety of her son, 28-year-old David, who works with Oprah Winfrey's communications company in the city."

Describing the ordeal, McManus said she immediately started calling her son David's number knowing that he would be travelling to his office at the time.

'It was like my world was coming to an end in those anxious moments,' she recalled. When eventually her son called, she described it as a wonderful feeling."

In The Kerryman newspaper two Kerry families were reported as facing the cruel reality that their loved ones are among the thousands who perished in the World Trade Center.

The Lynch family from Tralee was devastated to discover their American cousin Michael was among the first firefighters to respond to the disaster call.

The Williams family was mourning their daughter's loss in the aftermath of the tragedy. Christina Williams, who emigrated from Tralee to the U.S., had two nephews working at the World Trade Center.

The Connaught Telegraph reported on the solidarity of Mayo firefighters with their U.S. counterparts during the disaster. In two hours last week, the firefighters from 12 towns in Mayo came out to get 8,000 signatures for a book of condolences.

In the Western People, Michael Commins reported, "Two New York firemen with Mayo connections are amongst those reported missing. They are firefighters Dennis McHugh and John Tierney whose fathers hail respectively from the Garrymore and Hollymount regions."

According to the People, 10 months ago McHugh and his wife Una celebrated the birth of their twins. Tierney was a firefighter from Ladder 9 in Manhattan; he was last seen in World Trade Center Tower One before it collapsed.

In the Carlow People it was reported that a Carlow family flew to New York two weekends ago in a bid to learn the fate of one of its members who was working in the World Trade Center at the time of the terrorist attack last week.

"Frank Duggan went to New York with his two sons Colm and Alan as his daughter-in-law Jackie is classified as missing. Jackie was catering sales manager in the Windows of the World. New Yorker Jackie, who is married to Mitchell Duggan, was at work last Tuesday morning when the two terrorist planes crashed into the Twin Towers," the paper reported.

In the Meath Chronicle the front page told of "A Glimpse of Hell on Earth."

According to the newspaper, many Meath exiles were caught up in the horror of the attacks in New York and Washington and were recounting their stories over the last two weeks.

A large number of Meath emigrants were in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center when the attacks began.

Navan native Mary Hubrich, a member of the Marmion family that runs the popular Ludlow St. pub, works a 10-minute walk from the disaster area in Manhattan.

Mary told how she had emerged from the subway on her way to work last week to hear that the two buildings had been hit. As she looked down Broadway, she saw the first tower collapsing.

'It was very frightening,' said Mary, who has worked in the U.S. for eight years and is now employed in the investments sector."

Fellow Meath native Damien Creavin described seeing "a nuclear-like plume of smoke" when he emerged from the subway and looked around at the disaster area.

Later Damien and his colleagues could only sit in their office on Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, a few miles north of the World Trade Center area, and watch on TV as the buildings fell.

The Bishop of Meath, Most Rev. Dr. Michael Smith, is one of the many Irish citizens awaiting confirmation of a relative's fate. His cousin Patrick Aranyos is missing and presumed dead in the ruins of the South Tower.

The paper also reports that a nephew of Tommy McHugh from Oldcastle, stockbroker Michael McHugh, is also thought to be among the thousands buried beneath the World Trade Center debris.

The Nenagh Guardian reported an outpouring of grief and shock in communities throughout North Tipperary for the loss of thousands of lives, including a Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary native, Martin Coughlan who had been doing contracting work on the 96th floor of the South Tower.

Coughlan was buried on Tuesday in his adopted home of Bayside, Queens. He is survived by a wife and four daughters.

The Sligo Champion told the sad tale of Kieran Gorman, from Lavagh, who was first reported missing following the terrorist attack.

According to the paper, Gorman worked with the Structure Tone construction company, and was involved in work on the building at the time of the explosion. A former Sligo footballer, Gorman also played with the Sligo team in New York.

A friend of his, Michael Burke, who lived in Tubbercurry for a number of years, went to the building after it fell to see if he could help out with the rescue efforts.

"People here are still hoping and hoping," he said. In an emotional interview with the Champion, the Gorman brothers spoke of Kieran's love of life, his passionate interest in Gaelic football, and his devotion to his wife, who is expecting the couple's third child in November.

Meanwhile, Irish Americans Sean McGovern and Damian Meehan with strong local roots, were remembered in the Donegal Democrat.

As the Galway City Tribune reported, there were many stories of Galway people who were lucky enough to survive narrow escapes.

The Munster Express reported the extent of Irish support for Americans as it told of how the churches were packed for Americas dead. All across Ireland in every town and village, thoughts were with someone in America.

Meanwhile on the web site, a book of condolences was set up and there were thousands of entries from Irish people all over the world.

"For the families whose calls go unanswered. We pray for you. Call someone you know and have not spoken to in some time, call them now," said John from Dublin.

"My deepest sympathy to all the victims, relatives and friends. Words are not adequate to express our feelings here in Ireland. God bless America. Our prayers are with you, " wrote Mike Flynn in Ireland.

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