This week the US Ambassador Mr. Dan Rooney launched a 9/11 commemorative crystal sculpture by Master Engraver Sean Egan of Sean Egan Art Glass in Waterford City. The launch took place at the Bishop’s Palace in Waterford City in the presence of the Mayor of Waterford Cllr. Pat Hayes and Michael Walsh, Waterford City Manager.
The piece, ‘Miracle on Stairwell B’ is a visual representation of one of the few ‘good news’ stories that came from the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.
A group of NY Fire Department officers were one of the first respondents to the north tower (the first to be hit) in New York on 9/11. They immediately started climbing stairwell B in intense heat and carrying 50lb of equipment. They were on their way up when they first heard and realised that the second tower had been hit and was collapsing. Chief officer Jay Jonas instinctively knew that it would not be long before their tower also collapsed and made the decision to exit the tower.
On the way down when they found a woman, Josephine Harris with a police officer. He has to decide to risk his and his men’s lives by trying to help them or to leave and save themselves. Of course, (despite Josephine’s protests) they elected to carry them out but this slowed them down significantly. When they reached the fourth floor they thought they felt fresh air but it was really the building starting to collapse so Jay Jonas radioed in their position.
And that is just what it did, collapse all around them. The searchers, even though they knew their position, could not locate where stairwell B was. Eventually though one of the fire officers called Mickey Kross regained consciousness, looked up and saw daylight. He reached up his hand through the rubble and heard the words “We’ve found someone”.
It is this moment in time that Sean Egan has recreated, where the hands of Mickey Kross and the search team member are just about to touch.
Josephine Harris survived and became known as the ‘Angel of stairwell B’. The fire officers survived because in rescuing Josephine they were in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately most of the officers above and below the fourth floor died in the collapse of the north tower. Josephine lived until January of this year and was given a full official fireman’s funeral.
The Ambassador was thrilled and moved by the significance of the piece. Sean was also pleased with the feedback he received for his work, “I’m humbled by the effort the Ambassador had made to come down to Waterford and launch my work. I’m really looking forward to officially presenting it to him in the RDS on September 11th this year”.
Sean Egan Art Glass was set up in April 2009 by Sean Egan, a Master Engraver with Waterford Crystal for 35 years. When Waterford Crystal ceased manufacturing in Waterford City in January 2009, Sean opened his own business as a freelance crystal engraver.
His aim is to keep the age old skill of copper wheel engraving on crystal alive in Waterford and Ireland. An age old craft which has been practiced in Waterford for many decades, Sean was passionate that the skill would not be left to die.
Sean’s designs are depictions of nature, particularly marine life and wild life, landscapes and historical monuments. All Sean’s artwork is designed and hand engraved by Sean himself, and no two pieces are exactly the same. “As a freelance engraver, I take my inspiration for my designs from everything around me”.
The sculpture was commissioned by the US Embassy in Dublin with financial assistance from Waterford City Enterprise Board, Waterford City Council and Waterford Area Partnership.
The public can visit Sean’s work at The Kite Design Studio on Henrietta Street in Waterford city or visit it on line on www.seaneganartglass.com