American Irish Historical Society unveils Hurricane Sandy memorial sculpture

Dr. Kevin Cahill, President-general of the American Irish Historical Society pictured alongside the new sculpture

A sculpture to honor the resiliency of the Irish communities affected by Hurricane Sandy has been unveiled at the American Irish Historical Society (AIHS) in New York City.

Designed by California based Irish sculptor Linda Brunker, the sculpture was unveiled on Monday evening at the society’s base on Fifth Avenue.

Hurricane Sandy, the deadliest and most destructive storm of 2012 and the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, claimed the lives of almost 150 people.

Dr. Kevin Cahill, President-general of the American Irish Historical Society told the Irish Voice that the inspiration for the memorial came in the days after the hurricane left a path of destruction along the east coast last October.

“It was right after Hurricane Sandy had devastated the American Irish communities in not just Breezy Point and the Rockaways, but the Jersey Shore and out in Staten Island.

“I did not want to focus on the devastation, I wanted to focus on the resiliency and so as you see the statue is a woman coming out of the sea, made out of starfish and seahorses and shells,” Dr Cahill explained.

“That statue will be in the building here so that 50 years from now, people will come and say ‘what was Hurricane Sandy?’”

The AIHS is also developing a written and oral history of the hurricane which claimed the lives of 43 people in New York City alone. The society intends to speak with people affected by the storm as well as emergency responders.

“The historical society was founded, so that someday years hence, someone can look back and say this is what these people experienced.”

Dr Cahill continued: “I wanted to do something to honor the strength of the American Irish, not the devastation. I wanted to do something that was lasting, so I set up the program, which has in addition to the statue, the oral and written archive.”

The sculpture will remain in the AIHS on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. 

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