Celebrating Irish Builders, From the Empire State to the W.T.C.

In an editorial for Irish Central, the reporter Kerry O’Shea lauds the work of Irish and Irish Americans in rebuilding at the World Trade Center site — including her 22-year-old brother and  her father.

As the Irish have for the past century — when they helped build the Empire State Building — workers of Irish descent continue to populate New York City’s construction sites.

Irish construction workers at the One World Trade Center site. (Photo by Kerry O'Shea/Irish Central)

I had my dad gather up a few other Irish and Irish Americans who work down at the site for a photo opportunity. One of the first things I noticed? The green shamrock stickers on their white hard hats.

You could probabaly gather a similar bunch of workers on any city construction site, the Empire State Building, or the Chrysler in its time, and get the same group of familiar Irishmen, determined to help New York rise to the top.

I asked my brother and father later if they found a certain camaraderie. “Everyone knows what happens here on 9/11, and that in itself creates a camaraderie amongst the workers,” my Dad said.

Indeed, walking around the Church and Liberty street intersections right at Zuccotti Park at lunchtime, all of the construction workers – who were easy to spot in neon safety vests and hard hats – milling about were in good spirits, almost like high schoolers during recess.

My dad did note with a bit of a chuckle, however, that “without a doubt ”the Irish do seem to“ be able to get along very well together”.

O’Shea notes, however, that the construction crews do not include many newer Irish immigrants.

Having J1 visa students working at the site is really unheard of, as getting into the union in the first place is a task in of itself.

“The problem with that,” explained my father, “is that they have to be members of a Union to work here [at the site]. This is a 100 percent Union site.”

Whether they’re the descendants of immigrants or immigrants themselves, the Irish continue to shape and build New York City, which also has America’s highest number of residents of Irish descent.

My Dad said the families home in Ireland are “very much so, very much so” proud of those who have gone on to work now at the new World Trade Center.

A work still very much in progress, the Irish and Irish Americans are working again to leave their mark on New York City by rebuilding the once tragically shattered skyline of New York City.

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