GAA’s 9/11 jerseys to benefit Irish charities as 32-county trek visits Kilkenny

Kilkenny Kilkenny Kilkenny

Michael Burke  Langton’s Hotel on John Street with proprietor Eamon Langton on the left and Kilkenny hurling legend, Liam ‘Chunky’ O’Brien (centre)

An Irish-American who was at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center atrocity has teamed up with O’Neills Sportswear to help keep the memory of those who died that day alive as well as raising money for local charities.

The unique fundraiser will take in GAA clubs in every county in Ireland - including Kilkenny.

Bronx-born Michael Burke was a volunteer rescue worker at the scene of the carnage caused by the Twin Tower terror attacks in New York in 2001. He attended the stricken site the following day, together with countless others, to help find survivors and eventually clear the wreckage.

As a past president and player with Sligo Gaelic Football Club (GFC) in New York, his father’s home county where he spent some of his youth, Michael has now teamed up with O’Neills Irish International Sports Company Limited to produce commemorative 9/11 GAA jerseys which will be auctioned for charity.

Michael, who settled in County Kerry in 2005, has never forgotten what he witnessed at Ground Zero. In the run-up to the anniversary this week, he will travel around Ireland delivering the special jerseys to county teams who can then sign and raffle them in support of a local charity of their choice. O’Neills has produced a jersey for each of the 32 counties.

As he travels around Ireland, Michael has already been to Kilkenny where he met Liam ‘Chunky’ O’Brien and just missed meeting Brian Cody. He plans to come back, very soon, as a guest of Eamon Langton, to continue his quest to get the Kilkenny hurlers’ autographs on a jersey.

The jerseys are the brainchild of O’Neills Managing Director, Kieran Kennedy. They feature a silhouette of the World Trade Center and the US Stars and Stripes flag, as well as logos in tribute to the New York and Port Authority Police Departments.

Michael Burke attended a 9/11 flag raising memorial at O’Neills Sportswear headquarters in Strabane coinciding with the anniversary to remember the almost 3,000 lives lost that day, those who were injured and the rescue teams.

He will finish his journey at Charlestown Sarsfield GAA Club in County Mayo where they are fundraising for a new pitch and walkway in memory of former member, Detective Garda Colm Horkan, who was tragically killed in June this year. Michael, whose mother was born in Charlestown, knew the late Garda personally.

Michael’s own jersey, which he will get signed by county players everywhere he goes, will be donated to the Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice in Dublin.

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