This St Patrick’s Day will be exciting for one Brownstown native, who will present a framed copy of his poem on 9/11 to the New York Fire Department.
Bernard O’Keefe, from the Curragh, wrote his poem entitled ‘The Ghost of Manhattan’ in 2001, shortly after the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York.
“The gist of the poem is that a fireman with an Irish background is killed in the disaster, and before he dies he swears that he won’t go to his rest till he sees Irish soil once more,” explained Bernard.
“So he finds himself stuck between here and the afterlife and his spirit remains at Ground zero.
“Anyways, a certain Irishman travels to New York, bringing with him a clump of shamrock with the intention of laying the Shamrock upon the Ground Zero shrine.
“After having a few drinks in a bar in Queens, he wanders up to the Ground Zero site where he meets the ‘Ghost of Manhattan’.
“The ghost tells him of the disaster and when the fellow places down the shamrock, of course it is in a sod of clay. The Ghost sees the Shamrock and the Irish soil and therefore can go to his rest.”
Bernard, who is travelling over to New York for the St Patrick Day celebration with a group from Kildare, was put in touch with Fire Officer Dan Daly of the New York Fire Department by the American Embassy, after he inquired how he could deliver his poem.
“Not only that, I have been invited to present a framed version of the poem to Engine 1 Ladder 24 of the New York Fire Department, where the poem will hang,” he said.
Fire Officer Daly will then personally give the group a tour of Ground Zero and of the memorial to those killed in the terrorist attacks in 2001.
“An added bonus to this for me is that my 83 year old uncle Michael, whom I have not seen in over 30 years will attend the presentation,” said Bernard.
The Curragh man is delighted that the poem he wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 will be displayed in New York.
“I am delighted that my poem will eventually find its way to Ground Zero,” he said.
“Engine 1 Ladder 24 lost several men, and, of course, their chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge in the disaster and they have a memorial site in their firehouse in Manhattan. There the poem will stay.”
The first and last line in the poem is “To New York I went and all Paddy’s Day spent”.
And like the character in the poem, Bernard will be spending St Patrick’s Day in New York and bringing a piece of home with him
“Its eleven years later now and thanks to the generousity of my friends and family I am heading to New York and with me I will bring a clump of Shamrock and place it at Ground Zero.”