Michael's 9/11 journey will aid and commemorate

Michael Burke joined so many others in the World Trade Center rescue effort in the aftermath of September 11


By Irish Echo Staff

A former New York resident with family links to Sligo and Mayo is traveling around Ireland on a GAA themed charity fundraising and awareness raising effort.

Michael Burke was a volunteer rescue worker who assisted at the scene of the horrific 9/11 attack in New York, which occurred 19 years ago next week.

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And as is the case for so many in the city, around America, and around the world, that terrible day still seems like yesterday.

Michael lives in Castleisland, County Kerry. His Sligo roots are in Tubbercurry. But he was born in the Bronx so it was his native city that was attacked on that otherwise serene early autumn day.

As Michael travels throughout Ireland by car he will have a special 9/11 GAA jersey for each county which has been designed and donated by O'Neill's in Strabane, County Tyrone, where a memorial 9/11 flag raising will take place on Friday, September 11.

Michael's trip from Kerry will take him through a number of counties including Sligo. He will finish his journey in Charlestown, County Mayo.

There he will make a presentation of a 9/11 jersey that will help raise funds for a new pitch and walkway in memory of the late Garda Colm Horkan.

Every Irish county, all 32 of them, will get a jersey for players to sign. Each jersey will be auctioned with proceeds going to a local charity.

Michael himself will also be wearing a 9/11 jersey which he hopes will be signed by players in every county he goes through, and which he will then donate to the Laura Lynn Children's Hospice in Dublin.

The special 9/11 jersey is also available on this side of the Atlantic, from Ned Devine's on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.

Michael is being helped along his way, not least by Adams Car Sales in Tralee which has given him a car.

And O'Neill's has stepped up to aid Michael who is a past player with, and president of, Sligo Gaelic Football Club in New York.

Michael's father was from Sligo and he spent a lot of time in the county during his younger years.

According to a release from O'Neill's, Michael, who settled in County Kerry in 2005, has never forgotten what he witnessed at Ground zero almost 19 years ago.

Stated the release: "In the run-up to the anniversary next week, he will travel around Ireland delivering the special jerseys to county teams who can then sign and raffle them in support of a local charity of their choice. O’Neills has produced a jersey for each of the 32 counties.

"The jerseys are the brainchild of O’Neills Managing Director, Kieran Kennedy. They feature a silhouette of the World Trade Center and the U.S. Stars and Stripes flag, as well as logos in tribute to the New York and Port Authority Police Departments."

Kieran said: “None of us can ever forget the scenes of devastation in New York and Washington, D.C. on September 11th, 2001. The attacks had a profound and far-reaching impact on all of us, but none more so than those brave rescue teams and volunteers including Michael Burke.

"The bond between the Irish and New York is deep, particularly through the GAA, which Michael was so involved in there, so we thought it was fitting that an O’Neill's jersey should commemorate the 19th anniversary this year.

“We wish Michael well as he embarks on his journey helping to raise funds for charity with our commemorative jerseys and we look forward to welcoming him to Strabane on his travels.”

Michael will attend the 9/11 flag raising memorial at O’Neills Sportswear headquarters in the County Tyrone town coinciding with the anniversary, this to remember the almost 3,000 lives lost on 9/11, as well as all those who were injured and those who worked so heroically with the rescue teams.

He will finish his journey at Charlestown Sarsfield GAA Club in County Mayo where members are fundraising for a new pitch and walkway in memory of former member, Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was tragically killed in June this year in County Roscommon.

Michael, whose mother was born in Charlestown, knew Garda Horkan personally.