Remembering Fr Mychal Judge, the Irish-American priest killed in 9/11
Son of Leitrim emigrants was a supporter of addicts, the homeless, and 1980s Aids victims
Rescue workers carry fatally injured New York City Fire Department chaplain, Fr Mychal Judge, from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11th, 2001. Judge was the first official victim of the 9/11 attacks. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Often, Irish identity abroad is linked to a number of accepted traits. At times, this idealised identity has not seemed flexible enough to contain different lifestyles. One man who unified the many disparate tenets of Irish-American identity was Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan remembered not only for his death at 9/11, but also for his open-hearted approach to the poor and dispossessed.
Judge was the son of immigrants from Co Leitrim. Growing up in poverty in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, he watched his father die a slow and painful death from mastoiditis, a condition that can develop after untreated ear infections. Shining shoes outside Penn Station as a child, he would visit the Franciscan Friars at St Francis of Assisi Church. His vocation came from his observation of their simple way of life.