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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Ireland grieves for America
Irish children leaving flowers outside embassy
Irish children left flowers outside the US Embassy
By the BBC's Mary Campbell in Dublin

Ireland virtually shut down on Friday as people respected the National Day of Mourning which the government called in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the United States.

All government offices and schools closed their doors, as did most shops and private businesses and only a limited public transport service was in operation.


May God guide us safely through these troubled days

Irish President Mary McAleese
All day thousands of people queued outside the American Embassy in Dublin to sign a book of condolence and to show their solidarity with the American people.

People have talked of how the bombings were "an attack on all our freedom", how they feel "as if they have lost someone close" and how their definition of the world will never be quite the same again.

US embassy staff say they have been overwhelmed by the response.

In the afternoon Fire Officers from the Dublin Fire Brigade went to the Embassy to show their solidarity with their New York colleagues many of whom lost their lives in Tuesday's attacks.

Old friends

The bond between Ireland and the United States has always been a strong one.

More than 44 million Americans claim Irish descent and ever since the dark days of the potato famine in the 1840s, Irish people have gone in search of work and the American dream.

There is hardly a family in the country which does not have relatives there and this week's losses have been keenly felt.

Irish PM Bertie Ahern looking at floral tribute outside embassy
Bertie Ahern was among the mourners
So far three Irish people have been confirmed dead. Ruth Clifford-McCourt, born in County Cork, and her four-year-old daughter Juliana were on one of the flights which crashed into the World Trade Center.

By a strange twist of fate her brother Ronnie was actually in the World Trade Centre but managed to escape and it was only when he reached home that he learned of the terrible death his sister and niece met.

Dublin-born Patrick Currivan was also on one of the hijacked planes which crashed into the World Trade Center.

A number of Irish building workers who had been working in the area are still missing and their families anxiously await news.

Broken-hearted

In a national radio address to the country, President Mary McAleese said: "The people of the United States hold a special place in the hearts of all of us here in Ireland.

"The roots go down through the centuries and are as strong today as they ever were.

"This National Day of Mourning is a very special opportunity for all of us to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the United States of America.

"It sends a message across the Atlantic and indeed around the globe that Ireland too is broken-hearted and grieving deeply at the unconscionable waste of life we have witnessed this week. "God bless those in the United States, those in Ireland and all those men, women and little children throughout the world who have been personally, profoundly affected by the tragedy.

"May God guide us safely through these troubled days."

A special ecumenical service of Remembrance and Healing was held in Saint Mary's Pro-Cathedral this morning.

This was attended by the President, Mrs McAleese, the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and most of the Irish Cabinet.

Thousands gathered outside the church and maintained a respectful quiet which was broken to applaud the arrival of the US Ambassador to Ireland Mr Richard Egan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Justin Webb at St Paul's Cathedral
"This was the most solemn of services"
See also:

14 Sep 01 | Americas
Manhunt widens beyond US borders
14 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe mourns with US
14 Sep 01 | Africa
Kenya mourns with US
14 Sep 01 | Europe
FBI 'ignored leads'
14 Sep 01 | Americas
In pictures: A world in mourning
14 Sep 01 | South Asia
Taleban defiant over Bin Laden
14 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea mourns US victims
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Q&A: Striking back
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