343 Trees for Firefighters Who Died on 9/11 Are in Surprise Spot

Irish nurse who worked in NYC set up County Cork garden in tribute to lost FDNY members
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2023 8:52 AM CDT
Updated Sep 16, 2023 2:10 PM CDT

On Sept. 11, 2001, 343 firefighters perished in New York City during the terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Every year, America remembers those first responders, and the thousands of others who died that day. So does a tiny town in County Cork, Ireland, thanks to Kathleen Murphy, an Irish nurse who worked for more than 30 years in New York City and helped set up the Ringfinnan Garden of Remembrance in Kinsale shortly after the attacks. The New York Times reports on the memorial to those lost firefighters, set on a 1-acre plot of land owned by Murphy's family and featuring a sycamore or oak tree for each of the lost firefighters.

"Three hundred and forty-three trees were planted here, each one bearing the name of a brave firefighter who died on that day, along with their chaplain, Mychal Judge," the then-mayor explained two years ago in a Cork County Council YouTube video. Murphy had become close to Judge after she emigrated to New York from Kinsale and started working as a nurse in Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital. The 56-year-old helped treat injured firefighters after the 9/11 attacks, and headed down to ground zero to see how she could help there afterward.

When Murphy went home to Kinsale for a visit following 9/11, she decided she wanted to erect a tribute to those FDNY members who'd died. "It was something to stand the test of time," a nephew, John Murphy, tells the Times. "After the fact, after the grief surrounding the whole event, it could be something that would be left." The younger Murphy says that tourists now come from all over to visit the trees—"word of it is spread mainly by word of mouth," he recently told the Irish Examiner—and last month, the memorial had some extra-special visitors.

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The Irish Independent reports that members of the FDNY's Emerald Society, a group for those of Irish heritage, showed up in Kinsale, along with nearly $5,400 they'd raised to help with the site's maintenance. "It was a very emotional event for everyone involved," says Cork historian Michelle O'Mahony, who helped in planning the visit. Kathleen Murphy died in 2011 of ovarian cancer at the age of 66, and her family now tends to the garden in her stead. Much more here on her tribute, as well as a second 9/11 memorial in Kinsale. (More 9/11 anniversary stories.)

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