A new exhibition , many of never before seen 9/11 photographs, will open in Dublin and Chicago this month.
Irish photographer Nicola McClean talked about her upcoming exhibition Ground Zero 360C° and her memories of being in New York on 9/11.
The photographer and her husband Paul, a retired New York police commander, were both born in Ireland and now live in Dublin there with their four young sons. The couple met in New York in Christmas of 2000 when Nicola was sent ny our sister publication Irish Voice to photograph Paul because he was the youngest commanding officer in the history of the NYPD at that time. They began dating in March 2001 and were both in New York on Sept 11.
McClean, who has worked for The Irish Voice and Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, recalled a heartbreaking scene she witnessed on that horrible day.
"I remember a beautiful girl and her fabulous long red hair," she said. "She frantically looked behind her and then down below and then behind her again, the absolute horror of what was happening to her clearly etched in her face. I don't recall if she jumped, I presume she did, but the look of her amazing red locks blowing up and around her little petrified face is something that I shall never forget. She was the centre of someone's world and there she was, standing alone, with fires blazing all around her, on the top of the tallest building in the world, with no one to make it OK."
"I struggle still with it, Paul and I don't talk much about the finer details, the very personal stories ... there are so many ... as it always ends the same way," she told the Irish Independent.
"I go right back there and I see that girl and it's all too much. I didn't even know her name. How must it be for the families who lost someone? Unimaginable. It is for these families and the girl with the red hair and the thousands like her, that we decided 10 years ago that we would play our part to help the world to always remember."
When Nicola heard was what happening at the World Trade Center, she rushed from her home in Queens into Manhattan. The 200 rolls of what she shot that days and the days after 9/11 form the basis and the exhibition that opens in Dublin this week and in Chicago at the end of this month.
Nicola said that she has "a responsibility to honour those that died that day. I was right there at Ground Zero while many family members of the victims were not. They were elsewhere, praying and hoping that their loved ones would make it home. For most of them, their prayers went unanswered."
"I am not a particularly religious person, but like most Irish people I was baptised Catholic and attended a Catholic school, I felt a deep spiritual sense of loss as I stood there alone on the streets of Manhattan in the middle of that dust cloud. I promised myself then that I would never ever forget, that I would always remember their loss and the inevitable pain and suffering that I knew all of their families would endure for the rest of their lives. Families torn apart, children orphaned, too much to really take on board."
Ground Zero 360C° is at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Aug 18-Oct 1 & at the RDS Sept 6-Sept 11. 'Ground Zero 360C° -- A Photo Book' is available at www.groundzero360.org
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