On Saturday the 15th March, Senator Mark Daly layed a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland in a ceremony attended by the Irish Defence Forces at Ground Zero, New York. Below is the transcript of his speech:
‘A bowl of bitter tears’ is how James Joyce described the Atlantic ocean for the millions of Irish who left and who today are part of the 40 million Americas who have Irish heritage. Their ancestors came with a mixture of hope and despair. They came here to make a better life for themselves and for their families. Many joined the police, fire departments and the army. President John F. Kennedy acknowledged this during his address to the Irish Parliament in 1963 – ‘no country contributed more to building my own than your sons and daughters’.
Of the 3, 463 Medal of Honour recipients, 257 were born in Ireland. This number represents the highest of any other country and shows the deep bond between our two republics. The Irish Brigade’s service and sacrifice to this nation is seen in the battle honours of its regimental flag, which was presented to the people of Ireland by John F. Kennedy during his address to the Irish Parliament. This flag now enjoys pride of place in our Senate Chamber. The roll of battle honours include Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and as a result of 9/11, now includes Route Irish in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first soldiers on the ground at this site were those of the legendary ‘Fighting Irish’ 69th Regiment.
Today’s ceremony is one of the many ceremonies by the Irish nation recognizing the loss and link between our two Republics. The Certificate of Irish Heritage is a recognition by the Irish Government of the 70 million people from around the world who share Irish heritage, with 40 million of these people from the United States.
In recognition of the lives lost here, our Minister for Foreign Affairs presented the first ever Certificate of Irish Heritage to Bridget Hunter, the mother of fire-fighter Joseph, who was last seen heading into the twin towers. Like the Lynches, Tierney’s, Foleys and all of the police and fire department, Joseph, in the words of Lincoln ‘gave his last full measure of devotion’ to his adopted home.
During his faithful address before leaving Ireland from Shannon airport for the final time, JFK quoted a poem promising he would return in the spring time:
‘Come back to Erin Mavourneen Mavourneen, come back to the land of my birth, come with the shamrock in the springtime’
On St. Patricks day morning, it will be my great honour and privilege to present Shamrock from my own home county of Kerry to the 69th Regiment before they lead the New York St. Patricks Day Parade.
For those who perished here on September 11th and never saw another springtime.
For those in the NYPD , NYFD and the 69th Regiment who gave their last full measure of devotion and never saw another Spring.
This springtime when the Shamrock grows, and in springtimes to come, we will remember them.