In recent years the Sligo town of Ballymote has become an opportunity for American nationals living in Ireland to commemorate the horrific terrorist tragedy of 9/11.
At the foot of the national monument dedicated to Ballymote native General Michael Corcoran, from The Fighting 69th Regiment, encased in toughened glass, is a piece of twisted steel from the destroyed Twin Towers that was officially unveiled by the current Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg on his historic visit to Sligo in 2005.
The steel was donated by the Michael F Lynch Foundation which honours the memory of New York Firefighter Michael Lynch who died on that fateful day.
For some years since the unveiling, the monument and Twin Towers steel has become a focal point each anniversary of that fateful day in 2001. Members of Sligo Fire Service, Defence Forces and Gardaí attended every year as did representatives of the US Embassy in Dublin.
Last year, the 10th anniversary, Minister of State, John Perry TD, the person who ensured the monument was erected and who brought Mayor Bloomberg to Ireland could not attend. He was leading a government business delegation to Australia. He was represented at the wreath-laying ceremony by Councillor Pat McGrath and a letter from Mayor Bloomberg to the people of Sligo was read by the minister's wife, Mrs Marie Perry.No Flags Flew
This year, no advance publicity had been announced by Minister Perry's office or the Ballymote Enterprise Company Ltd. This however did not stop some visitors turning up yesterday expecting to again witness the commemoration ceremony.
They were greeted with a lonely and desolate site.
Left: A floral arrangement from last year lies at the base of the monument. Photo:SligoToday.ie
Apart from new flower boxes installed by the Tidy Towns committee, no flags flew where normally on the day, the American flag flanked by the flags of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) would proudly flutter in the Sligo breeze.
The ragged and tattered remains of a floral contribution from last year's ceremony stood forlornly at the base of the monument. It was a sad sight to greet the visitors and locals who came throughout the day to pay their respects to the thousands, including nearby Tubbercurry man Kieran Gorman, who lost their lives tragically eleven years ago.
Minister Perry was unavailable for comment as it is believed he was attending the Fine Gael Parliamentary 'Think In' in Westport, Co Mayo. A spokesperson from his office told SigoToday.ie
that 'the ceremony has been held every year up to and including the ten year anniversary last year. We did not hold it this year.' The spokesperson also said that a 9/11 announcement would be made shortly.
Speaking yesterday afternoon, Fine Gael's Sligo County Councillor Pat McGrath told SligoToday.ie
that, "it was felt that the 10th anniversary ceremony last year was enough and that maybe it might be revived on the 15th or 20th anniversary."
Reluctant to say who exactly made such a decision Cllr McGrath said, "it was a general consensus of opinion."
However because of the disappointment of those hoping to spend some time reflecting and in the company of fellow countrymen Cllr McGrath said that,"in light of today's developments a meeting would be held to reconsider the earlier decision."
Local residents said that it was a pity the ceremony did not take place and suggested that the organising committee should hold a simple religious event on Sunday and lay a wreath to the memory of the 9/11 dead.Always be first with Sligo news - Never miss a story - Join us on Facebook