9 / 11 Tribute
Sean’s place in Waterford Crystal folklore was assured when he engraved the iconic image of Fr Mychal Judge, New York City Fire Department’s Chaplain, being carried out of the rubble of the World Trade Centre on 9/11. Sean said “American people kept me in a job for 30 years, so I wanted to do something to honour 9/11. I started working on it during my free time in July 2006. I spent weekend and evenings, I got completely wrapped up in it. I spent more than 200 hours working on the piece, and it took me 6 months to complete it. I wasn’t sure how it would be received, whether I would insult people, end up being fired or sued”.
The piece may have remained private but for a fire fighter, Mike O’Rourke, as 26 year FDNY veteran from The Bronx in New York. He was on the tourist trail in Waterford Crystal and saw Sean working on it. Sean shared his dream with Michael that he wanted to donate the finished masterpiece to the Fire Department in New York. Michael O’Rourke went back to New York and was instrumental in arranging for Sean to go to New York to donate his sculpture to the New York Fire Department. When Waterford Crystal heard that Sean’s 9/11 sculpture was to be donated to FDNY in New York they commissioned him to do a larger sculpture.
Sean went over to New York and was very proud to present the sculpture to the Fire Department of New York at Engine 1, Ladder 24 at a ceremony held on 15th March, 2007, where Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and the Chief of Department Salvatore Cassono accepted it for the department on behalf of the September 11 victims It was a very emotional service held at the firehouse. Sean met with parents of the firemen who died and Fr Judge’s sister. “I was worried that the piece would be seen as bad taste, but everyone loved it” It is now on display at the Firehouse on 31st St., New York, which is located directly across the street from the friary at St. Francis of Assisi Church where Father Mychal Judge resided. It is well known to all that knew him, that Father Judge considered E1/L24 to be “his firehouse”. .
The 9/11 sculpture is filled with symbolism. The main piece, depicting five New York City workers, carrying Father Judge is a memorial to the 343 New York City Fire Department, 37 P.A.P.D. and 23 N.Y.P.D. members who lost their lives on 9/11. The tall building shells represent all those that died in the World Trade Center that day. The wooden base of the piece is comprised of Irish Bog Oak.
The original sculpture which Sean made in his own time is on display at Waterford Museum of Treasures on the ground floor.