11 September 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Did you know there is a 9/11 memorial on the Wild Atlantic Way driving route, in County Cork, Ireland?
Most people have not heard of ‘Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance’. It has no website, just a Facebook page. The garden is located South West of Kinsale town, Co Cork, Ireland. To reach it you can depart Kinsale town, then travel over the long concrete bridge, then turn right to the townland of Ringrone. The garden appears on the right side. Without Google Maps it can be hard to locate. One review on TripAdvisor says
“We found this quite by accident taking a side road from our lodging into Kinsale. We actually went by a couple of times before backing up and stopping to see what this was about. What a surprise to find a memorial to the firefighters who died in NYC on 9/11 tucked on a side road in Ireland. Seeing the trees, the names, the mementos left, and the American flags waving brought tears to the eyes. This is just a beautiful spot to stop and remember.”
Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance was established by Kathleen Murphy in November 2001. Kathleen grew up in Ringfinnan, Kinsale, Co Cork. Following her training as a nurse in England she moved to New York where she worked as a staff nurse for 40 years in Lennox Hill Hospital. Kathleen always admired the brave and courageous work of firefighters. Following the 9/11 attacks she decided to establish the garden of remembrance in memory to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on September 11th 2001. Kathleen passed away in March 2011 in New York following a battle with cancer and is buried less than 2 miles from the garden. The garden continues.
Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance is in the news today because the current Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Gillian Coughlan joined with Cork County firefighters as we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Councillor Gillian Coughlan, said,
“The attack on the Twin Towers was one that shocked the entire world, and brought to the forefront of our minds the bravery of first responders around the globe. Each of the men commemorated here had turned up for work on that fateful day, knowing that they would willingly run towards danger if they needed to help others. From the utter tragedy of 9/11, their bravery shone like a beacon. No matter what evil is perpetrated, or what disaster befalls a community, firefighters everywhere stand ready to respond. Twenty years may seem like a long time, but to the families who lost loved ones, time heals slowly. In Cork, we stand with those families today, and with all those still grieving.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Cork County Fire Service, Paul Griffin, said,
“We honour the hundreds of brave souls who tended to their duty and lost their lives. As first responders, we shoulder the weight of responsibility when tragedy strikes. We know that we walk into danger, and face risks side-by-side with our colleagues. Those who ran towards the Twin Towers represented the very best of us. One cannot but be struck by the sheer number of trees at this peaceful site, realising that each represents a fallen hero.”
Virgil Horgan, Kathleen Murphy’s cousin, is one of the custodians of the Memorial Garden,
“Many of the firemen who died were Irish, or of Irish descent. They were the men who marched in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York in March 2001. Kathleen and her family felt it was important to make sure that each family could identify the tree commemorating their loved one, which is why each tree bears the name of a firefighter who lost their lives while trying to save others.”
The Garden of Remembrance has been visited by many since it first opened, including by some of the families of the firefighters whose names are inscribed on each of the trees.
Rosaleen Tallon’s brother Sean Patrick Tallon (26) was a probationary firefighter at Ladder 10‚ the fire station located directly across from the World Trade Center. He was among the first to respond on 9/11. Rosaleen said,
“Sean would be so honored by the living memorial of trees at Ringfinnan, growing tall on the hill over Kinsale, in his mother’s native Cork. Sean loved visiting his family in Cork and he was proud to have Rebel blood in his veins. My mom and I appreciate the love and compassion that inspired dear Kathleen Murphy to create the Garden of Remembrance, and the love and dedication of the people that continue to keep the garden going. We have visited the garden every year when we were on vacation and it always gives us comfort.”
The Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance is open to the public daily. It is home to a range of native Irish trees including Oak, Ash, Birch, Crab Apple, Hawthorn, Willow and Scots Pine. Other varieties present in the garden include Sycamore, Magnolia, Eucalyptus, Plum, Weeping Pear and Lawson Cyprus. The wide variety of trees means that the garden changes with the seasons and has colour and life year-round.