The tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks was marked in the village of Cappawhite on Sunday as the community remembered in their prayers a local man, Martin John Coughlan, who died in the Twin Towers atrocity.
The fifty three year old father of four girls was working on the 96th floor of the South Tower that day. He spoke by phone to his wife Catherine shortly after the hijacked plane plunged into the building.
He is remembered with deep affection in the village of Cappawhite where he grew up. Martin John emigrated to America in the eighties and lived in Queens with his wife Catherine and they had four daughters – Ailish, Denise, Orla and Sinead.
On Sunday the Coughlan family in Cappawhite and Tipperary Town attended a “ceremony of reflection and peace” hosted by the US embassy in Dublin which was attended by President Mary McAleese. On the same day Fr. Pat Coffey celebrated Martin John’s tenth anniversary mass in Cappawhite.
A niece of Martin John, Caroline Renehan said the family were honoured to attend the ceremony in Dublin last Sunday. Caroline said it was a fitting memorial service to her uncle and to all of the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
“It was a lovely service. We were all very honoured to be there,” said Caroline who said the thoughts of all their family were with Martin’s family who were attending the memorial services in New York at the Ground Zero site. Martin John’s daughter Ailish read out his name during the ceremony.
Caroline said that the Dublin service and the mass celebrated in Cappawhite meant a lot to the family as did the support and prayers of the Cappawhite community over the last ten years.
“People have been very supportive to our family. We are all very proud of Martin John and we love talking about him and we love people telling us stories about his time growing up in Cappawhite,” said Caroline.
Cllr. Mary Hourigan said the Coughlan family were remembered in the prayers of the Cappawhite community on Sunday.
“This atrocity affected the four corners of the world as well as this quiet rural village in West Tipperary where the pain of what happened on that day, ten years on, is still very real,” she said.
Prior to and during the mass the congregation watched a powerpoint presentation which included all of the names of the people who lost their lives on 9/11.
Fr. Coffey said that the events of 9/11 were remembered powerfully in Cappawhite through the life and death of Martin John Coughlan.
“Our thoughts are very much with his family here and his family in the States whose grief remains real and deeply personal,” he said.
He read out a tribute by his daughter Denise in 2002 –
Martin John Coughlan was my father.
But, he wasn’t just my father because I just so happened to be born.
He was my father because he...
cared about me.
Picked me up from dance class never being a second late.
Gave me someone to look up to.
Made me laugh.
Gave me everything I ever needed, even when I didn’t deserve it.
He was the best father anyone could ever have.
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about you Dad. We all miss you!
Fr. Coffey said there were reminders of Martin’s life around them in Cappawhite such as the picture on the wall of Coughlans bar, marking his involvement in the 1962 U/15 hurling team and a hammer mounted on a plaque presented to the family by the New York District of Carpenters.
“A hammer which will never again be used to drive a nail or tap a timber joining together. That hammer takes on a new use as a reminder to all who see it -of what happened ten years ago today,” said Fr. Coffey.