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Irish_Memorial1.jpgOn the way to a free Ladysmith Black Mazambo concert at The World Financial Center Plaza last night, my friend and I happened upon the Irish Famine Monument that is right in the middle of the canyons of downtown office and apartment buildings.
Incongruously, the front of the monument is glass and steel, and is inscribed with moving quotes about hunger. Then you climb a path that takes you 25 feet above the sidewalk to a landscape of heather, reeds, and clover enclosed by a stone wall. There is the footprint of an ancient stone cottage.
For a moment, you can easily forget you are in Manhattan, a block from the ruins of The World Trade Center. The devastations are 150 years apart, but their proximity reminds you that the past is indeed prologue and that, perhaps, pain makes us who we are.
The site, created by artist Brian Tolle with landscape architect Gail Wittwer-Laird, includes boulders inscribed with the names of Ireland’s 32 counties.
We also were a block from the Hudson River Promenade. It was a perfect, crystal-clear June evening, with gentle breezes and a nearly full bright orange moon, clearly visible in the hole in the sky left by the Twin Towers loss. Suddenly, we were treated to a fireworks display across the river. And even New Jersey looked beautiful last night.