The site of the new World Trade Center in New York City is fast becoming a canvas for notes of remembrance and rebuilding - as well as a space for workers to scribble just about whatever comes into their minds.
As such, many of the Irish workers at the site have begun to fill some of the empty spaces on beams and walls with notes of their respective county pride.
My father John O’Shea, a native of Kenmare in Co Kerry, has been working at Tower 4 of the new World Trade Center since about 2008. The job is, of course, a source of immense pride for not only him, but our entire family both here and in Ireland.
Another source of immense pride for my father? His Kerryman status. Despite being an official US citizen for some years now, his pride of his native County Kerry, and Ireland in general, has not and likely will not subside.
In a perfect storm of Irish and American nationalism, my dad often takes time to photograph, via his Blackberry, some behind-the-scenes shots of the construction at the site. Some days it’s cranes or machinery - and other days, it’s his co-worker Miguel, a “Spanish lad” as my dad points out, who has had ‘Come on the Kingdom’ written out big on his hard hat.
Stickers don hard hats in county colors, and a Eurotech toolbox is further scribbled over with ‘Come On Da Kingdom’ and ‘Up Kerry’ - more of my dad’s own handiwork at the site.
At Tower 4’s ‘topping-out’ ceremony in June, my father took a green Sharpie to the final steel beam which had been turned into a sort of autograph book for those there that day. On one side he wrote in big letters, ‘God Bless America,’ a sentiment which was joined in by dozens of other workers and even President Barack Obama himself who wrote, ‘We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!’
On the other side, my dad also wrote out ‘Up the Kingdom’ with mine, my brothers and my mom’s names. Co Kerry is now well represented, though not visible, way up above Tower 4 of the World Trade Center.
Sure, no one will see the Co Kerry shoutout again, aside from in the newspaper clippings, but like in many other New York City institutions, Ireland is ingrained into the structure. Not only from the Irish immigrants who are working hard there day in and day out, but also from their playful scrawls of various counties’ pride.
Check out the Associated Press’ video on WTC’s Graffiti here: