9/11 Ground Zero volunteer to stage anniversary flag raising ceremony at O’Neills in Strabane

Michael Burke wearing his special O'Neills jersey made to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.Michael Burke wearing his special O'Neills jersey made to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.
Michael Burke wearing his special O'Neills jersey made to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11.
An Irish-American man who was a volunteer rescue worker at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks will arrive in the north west this Friday to raise a flag in memory of the victims.

Michael Burke will be visiting O’Neills in Strabane on Friday morning for the 19th anniversary memorial ceremony, which will take place at 10am.

Mr Burke is travelling to every county in Ireland delivering special commemorative O’Neills jerseys to GAA clubs for a unique charity fundraiser. O’Neills has produced a jersey for each of the 32 counties which feature a silhouette of the World Trade Centre and the US flag, as well as logos in tribute to the New York and Port Authority Police Departments. The county teams can then sign and raffle them in support of a local charity of their choice.

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On the morning of September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda hijacked four passenger planes. Two of the planes were crashed into the Twin Towers in New York city’s World Trade Center complex. A third plane was flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The fourth hijacked flight, Flight 93, crashed into an field in Pennsylvania.

In all, the attacks killed 2,977 people, the vast majority of which, 2,753 people, were killed in the New York atrocity.

Bronx-born Michael Burke was a volunteer rescue worker at the scene of the carnage caused by the Twin Tower terror attacks. He attended the stricken site the following day together with countless others to help find survivors and eventually clear the wreckage which took many months to complete.

As a past president and player of Sligo Gaelic Football Club (GFC) in New York – his father’s home county where he spent some of his youth – Michael has teamed up with O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited to produce the commemorative 9/11 GAA jerseys which will be auctioned for charity. Michael, who settled in County Kerry in 2005, has never forgotten what he witnessed at Ground zero almost 19 years ago.

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The commemorative jerseys are the brainchild of O’Neills Managing Director, Kieran Kennedy.

Kieran said: “None of us can ever forget the scenes of devastation in New York and Washington DC on September 11th, 2001. The attacks had a profound and far-reaching impact on all of us, but none more so than those brave rescue teams and volunteers including Michael Burke.

“The bond between the Irish and New York is deep, particularly through the GAA which Michael was so involved in there, so we thought it was fitting that an O’Neills jersey should commemorate the 19th anniversary this year.

“We wish Michael well as he embarks on his journey helping to raise funds for charity with our commemorative jerseys and we look forward to welcoming him to Strabane on his travels.”

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Michael will finish his journey at Charlestown Sarsfield GAA Club in County Mayo where they are fundraising for a new pitch and walkway in memory of former member, Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was tragically killed in June this year. Michael, whose mother was born in Charlestown, knew the late Garda personally.

Michael’s own jersey, which he will get signed by county players everywhere he goes, will be donated to the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice in Dublin.

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