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BREWSTER — A chance meeting between an Irish artist and a Brewster couple on their 50th anniversary trip to Waterford, Ireland, paved the way for a new 9/11 memorial there that was unveiled earlier this week.
In 2011, Rose and Ralph Ingegneri were on a bus tour, and advised to visit a glass artist named Sean Egan. They walked to the crystal engraver’s studio and found him working on a 10th anniversary memorial of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Ralph Ingegneri, the former fire chief in Mount Kisco, New York, was touched, and before he left, Egan asked Ingegneri if he could get him a piece of steel from the World Trade Center for the sculpture.
With the help of Brewster Fire Chief Robert Moran, Ingegneri got Egan a small piece to be used in the “Miracle on Stairwell B” sculpture, which was put on display at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.
The Brewster couple developed a friendship with Egan, and they asked the artist to create two crystal pieces to commemorate the Boston Marathon bombings. Those sculptures were unveiled two years ago in Dedham.
While in the States for the dedication, Egan traveled to Brewster to see the fire department’s 9/11 memorial at the headquarters on Route 6A.
Egan again asked if Ingegneri and Moran could help him get a piece of steel, only this time for memorial in Waterford, Ireland.
Ingegneri turned once more to Moran, a former Englewood, New Jersey, fire chief who had spent days working at ground zero after the terrorist attacks.
Through a series of connections at the office of the New York City fire commissioner, Moran was able to secure another piece of steel from the World Trade Center.
Ingegneri had the steel piece trucked to Brooklyn for a three-month boat trip to Egan in Waterford.
The Ingegneris traveled to Ireland last week to take part in Sunday’s unveiling ceremony, as did two New York firefighters; Moran was unable to attend.
“We sincerely hope that the memorial is a fitting tribute to the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 many of whom have Irish connections and it is also in honour of our own first responders who keep us safe,” Egan said in a statement on the Waterford City Council website.
“It put chills through you,” Ingegneri said Wednesday in describing the ceremony.
In a speech at the ceremony, surrounded by Irish emergency service members and dignitaries, Ingegneri reflected on the people who lost their lives in the attack, talked about how the steel came to be in Waterford, and thanked the people of Ireland.
“They were so overwhelmed to have that piece,” he said. “They have a place now where they can go and reflect.”
— Follow Ethan Genter on Twitter: @EthanGenterCCT.