Firehouses aren’t on your New York tourist itinerary but they should be, and there are some native New Yorkers who would do well to visit one.
Like New York’s leaders who are betraying the memory of those heroes by pulling the annual light show memorial because of COVID-19.
Like most who have Irish blood coursing through their veins New York is part of my family’s story.
Three of my uncles decamped there, worked in bars and went on to open up their own businesses.
They never forgot what New York had given them, nor their children who went on to serve in their schools, hospitals, the NYPD and the NYFD.
And it was to his firehouse in Greenwich Village that my cousin Eddie took myself and my family when we visited.
Pride of place went to the lost firefighters, his friends who perished that fateful day, whose pictures adorn the walls.
The Village is notable, of course, for its artsy vibe and as the birthplace of the Gay Rights movement and that’s no coincidence.
As unlike the rest of Manhattan it predates the gridded road system.
Which was a hindrance to the 9/11 firefighters who had to negotiate the sharp bends on their way to the Twin Towers.
And Eddie took us up on an engine to show us how the firefighters did that with a hand-held turnilever at the back.
Which obviously slowed up their progress.
In the family
Eddie and another firefighter cousin of mine, Gary, worked 24/7 in the aftermath going above and beyond the call of duty.
So they and NYFD’s finest deserve a light being shone on them for what they did.
Oprah Winfrey did when she brought them on her show to cook.
While Eddie got his moment in the sun when he appeared in a calendar all buffed up.
Which we saw on a newstand on that family break.
We had, of course, got an earlier peek when Eddie showed it off at another Auntie’s funeral in Dublin.
When he took delight in alerting my other auntie’s, my own Mum among them.
And they all needed a seat.
We are that sort of family!