9/11 commemoration service being held at Donadea Forest Park

Coillte honours US firefighter while also providing a bench dedicated to US marine

The memorials to US marine Liam Flynn and the victims of the September 11th attacks at  Donadea Forest Park in Co Kildare. Photograph: Alan Betson

The memorials to US marine Liam Flynn and the victims of the September 11th attacks at Donadea Forest Park in Co Kildare. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Wreaths will be laid in Donadea Forest Park on Wednesday in a memorial service honouring those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack on New York.

The annual service in Co Kildare will see police, fire-fighters and army forces gather at the foot of a memorial erected in honour of Sean Tallon, a Donadea-born fire-fighter who lost his life in the terrorist attack.

Mr Tallon’s parents will travel from the US to take part in the ceremony and lay a wreath in memory of their 26-year-old son, who died when the North Tower collapsed.

A second wreath will be laid on behalf of the emergency services by 83-year-old Tony Doran.

Like many witnessing the events unfold in New York in 2001, Mr Doran, a former Bus Éireann depot inspector who worked with CIÉ tours, says that he felt a “great personal empathy” for the Americans.

In 2002, his compassion led him to invite 300 firefighters, police and their families to Ireland, for a 10-day holiday.

He liaised with John Power, then chief executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, and Dublin Bus and secured free transportation, lodging and spending money for his guests.

In recognition of his compassion, Mr Doran was awarded the freedom of New York City.

“They didn’t have to put a hand in their pocket,” says Vincent Barrett, an airport police officer at Dublin airport who now plays a role in organising the annual memorial service.

Mr Barrett adds that there is a great sense of affinity between emergency services across the world.

“The camaraderie is universal,” he explained, “but that’s a date that really brought us all together.”

“We visit them and they visit us. Police guards are heading over to Philadelphia for the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

“We’re in contact with Firehouse 10, the one that Sean Tallon was working from, and we’ll be recording the memorial service to pass the footage on to them.”

Helicopter crash

The ceremony in Donadea will also be attended by family and friends of US marine Liam Flynn, originally from Clane, Co Kildare, who was killed along with 10 others in a US military helicopter crash during a training exercise off the Florida coast in March 2015.

Mr Flynn emigrated to the United States in 2002 and enlisted in the marines in 2006. He served four combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as a special forces marine. His medals and honours include a Purple Heart.

He was 33 at the time his death and was married with a daughter.

The Flynn family erected a plaque that includes the logo of the US marine corps. He is described on the plaque as “Marine Raider”, the name of his special operations regiment.

However, Coillte said that it did not carry out or give permission for the Flynn memorial and its policy since 2015 was not to permit memorials in its parks.

Earlier this year it had received “some complaints from members of the public” in relation to the memorial, the company said.

Coillte has instead placed a bench dedicated to the memory of Liam Flynn, alongside the 9/11 memorial, while discussions about the unauthorised memorial continue.

The company said its local forest manager “has been in touch with the family members behind the memorial and has made them aware of our policy on this matter”.

However, the company added that “due to the sensitivity of the issue involved, we are consulting carefully with the family to agree an alternative solution. Coillte has placed a dedicated park bench directly opposite the memorial, and we will continue to work closely with the family”.