Bagpipe Brothers: The FDNY Band's True Story of Tragedy, Mourning, and Recovery

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After the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks, New York City's Emerald Society Bagpipe Band of firefighter-musicians took out their instruments and prepared to bury their dead-343 brothers in duty and in blood. Many firefighters alternated between playing their instruments at funerals and digging for the missing in the rubble of Ground Zero. The Irish American tradition of funeral bagpiping became the sound of mourning for an entire nation.

Bagpipe Brothers tells the unforgettable story of four firefighters in the band, who struggled to bring peace to their families and themselves while searching for the dead, coping with the endless round of funerals, and rethinking the meaning of faith. Their experiences illustrate the grief and recovery of the nation in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.

Kerry Sheridan has written the first book to cover the ordeal of the massive number of funerals, the importance of recovering bodies in Irish American culture, and the bagpiping ritual, both traditional and modern.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Journalist Sheridan recounts with startling immediacy the events following the 9/11 terrorist attacks as they affected the Fire Department of New York's pipe and drum band. After setting the stage with the development of the Irish American bands since the early 1960s, providing some insight into firehouse culture and discussing several other fires, she weaves together the stories of disparate families and friends as they coped with the devastation of the 343 firefighters lost at the World Trade Center. The firefighters in the band were overextended as they played for as many as 19 memorial services in one day, all the while working at the recovery site and serving as surrogate parents to their fallen comrades' children or comforters to the widows. Sheridan's terse phrasing reflects her profession, and her own Irish background betrays a deep affection for the plight of those she is privileged to interview. The raw emotions and suspense fully involve the reader in this harrowing tale. Recommended for all libraries to sit alongside Dennis Smith's Report from Ground Zero and David Halberstam's Firehouse as a testament to the resilience and humanity of these brave souls. It will especially interest libraries in the New York area or collections on firefighting or bagpipe bands.-Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813533964
  • Publisher: Rivergate Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Series: Rivergate Book Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 680,748
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Kerry Sheridan is an editor on the Middle East desk of Agence France Presse in Cyprus. She has worked as a freelance correspondent in Cairo, Egypt, and has written for the San Francisco Chronicle and Irish American newspapers in New York and California.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments IX
Prologue 1
Introduction: A Brief History of Bagpiping and the Irish Traditions of the New York City Fire Department 3
1 Irish Fair 20
2 The Brunton Brothers 41
3 September 11 50
4 Dawning of the Day 75
5 The Funerals 88
6 Discovery 121
7 Laying to Rest 138
8 Thanksgiving 152
9 End of the Line 162
10 Holiday 181
11 Home Turf 196
12 Lost Celebrations 201
13 Closing Ground Zero 218
Epilogue 241
Notes 245
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004


    This book was an excellent portrayal of life as a bagpiper and also as a member of the city fire department. I enjoyed every minute of this book and finished it in 2 days (between work & playing my own bagpipes). I live in NYC and have followed 9-11 since the moment it happened, and all the newspaper & media coverage in the world could not have opened my eyes to how hard these men worked at the site. These gentlemen deserve the highest praise the department could bestow, even though they would say they simply did the right thing. They went above and beyond the ranks in the department. I only wonder how many more men like them are out there and we just do not know. Maybe a sequel to them in a few years? The book depicted their loyalty as strong, their characters as proud Irish men and the sense of humor delightful yet sarcastic at times. The concept of ¿brother¿ comes up often and that is what these men truly are ¿ Brothers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2004

    Real People Revealed

    Kerry Sheridan's superb detailing of the lives of everyday Irish American folks who experienced 9/11 and it's aftermath as firefighters, family members, bagpiper's tasked with honoring their fallen brothers in the exceptionally tragic environment of the year following 9/11 is a riveting account of human realities and the heroic and not so heroic way that some chose to deal with such unimaginable events. Respectfully, yet while pulling no punches, this gifted author, takes the path of Truman Capote in the classic 'In Cold Blood' as she makes us a 'fly on the wall' of these folks amazing lives as they experienced, dealt with, and helped others to perservere through, the most base and tragic of human events. Reading this account tugged at my heart and made me most conscious of the enormity of the debt we owe tho those who help us process and deal with such tragic and immense loss of life. Merits reading by all in the caring professions and gives invaluable insights into Irish-American rituals for dealing with tragedy.

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