A tribute to those Irish Americans we lost on 9/11
A 32-year-old bachelor like Foley, Cawley had been what firemen call a “buff” ever since he was a kid, happily covering shifts for firefighters who had families, and racing toward smoke and flame even when he was off-duty.
On a September 11 when he could have stayed away, Cawley of course could be no place else.
Meanwhile, AnnMarie McHugh had been at her desk inside Tower Two since early that morning. When not working for the EuroBrokers firm, the 35-year-old native of Tuam, County Galway, was busy planning her wedding, just a month away.
Over in Tower One, Mike Armstrong had even less time left before his “big day.” The 34-year-old son of immigrants from County Longford worked for the Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm alongside the Lynch brothers, Farrell (39) and Sean (36), whose uncle represents the Sligo-Leitrim constituency in the Irish Senate.
Armstrong, a Manhattan native who was so outgoing and gregarious that his many friends long ago nicknamed him “Posse,” was getting married to longtime girlfriend Cathy Nolan on October 6th.
At Logan Airport, the McCourts waited on standby. Ruth Clifford McCourt, a 44-year-old businesswoman who left her native County Cork as a teenager, was taking four-year-old Juliana on a vacation to Los Angeles. Mother and daughter found seats aboard United Airlines Flight 175.
Shortly after takeoff, of course, Flight 175 was yanked from its flight path by hijackers. As Ruth McCourt's plane hurtled towards Lower Manhattan, it's likely she never knew that her own brother, Ronnie, was attending a business meeting in the very same skyscraper where she and her daughter would meet their fiery end.
Ronnie Clifford would escape the Trade Center without serious injury, only to learn later that one of the two planes that brought the Towers down contained his sister Ruth and niece Juliana.
Panic spread like brushfire across the country, and Navy Commander Robert Dolan was among those called to quell the flames. The 40-year-old husband, father and Little League coach often addressed his military colleagues with speeches that quoted everything from Shakespeare to Monty Python; he was equally adept commanding naval fleets that resemble floating steel cities.
On the morning of September 11, Dolan was in his office on the first floor of the Pentagon's D Ring, among a group hearing reports on that morning's attacks in Lower Manhattan. At 9:43 a.m., American Airlines Flight 77 exploded through Dolan's window.
"Bob Dolan was the best and brightest this country had to offer to the altar of freedom," Lisa Dolan would later write about her husband of nearly 19 years. "We pray his rest is peaceful, although ours cannot be."
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