Tributes paid to Irish firefighter who died of cancer stemming from 9/11 attacks

Tributes paid to Irish firefighter who died of cancer stemming from 9/11 attacks

TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to a firefighter raised in Co Mayo who has been the latest person to die of health complications stemming from the 9/11 attacks.

On 29 March, FDNY Captain Michael Lyons, a New York native who was raised in Swinford, passed away after nearly a six-year battle with stage four cancer, aged 53.

He developed the cancer as a direct result of partaking in the rescue efforts on 9/11/2001, and is believed to the 276th firefighter to have died in similar circumstances.

Born in Brooklyn, Mr Lyons spent most of his youth in Meelick, Swinford, where he went to school. He graduated from University College Galway in 1990, with a degree in History and English.

He joined the FDNY on November 22, 1988, and served as a firefighter with Engine 228 in Sunset Park, Engine 59 in Harlem, Ladder 153 in Midwood, Ladder 148 in Borough Park, and Ladder 30 in Harlem, as a lieutenant.

Pasquale Buzzelli, of Rivervale, New Jersey, was inside the World Trade Center’s north tower when the building collapsed. Mr Lyons and other fighters pulled him from the rubble, Buzzelli said, and the two never lost touch.

"I prayed and called out for help and helped arrived," Buzzelli wrote on a tribute page. "It arrived in the form of four of the bravest, dedicated, and selfless NYC FIREMEN, one of which was Mike Lyons.

"We have been friends ever since. From the moment we were reunited months later our friendship grew. I loved his soft spoken demeanour, Irish brogue accent and caring and kind gentle soul.

"He never wanted any attention drawn to him, he didn’t want to trouble others with his troubles and illness yet he helped so many in return, again selflessly. On 9/11 I had an angel on earth who made sure I got home safe to my family and now we all have an angel in heaven watching over all of us. Mike I will miss you. Until we see each other again my friend. We love you."

He is survived by his two children Jillian and Aidan, his parents Margaret and Martin, his brothers Joseph, Patrick and Martin and their wives Siobhan, Donna and Aisling.

His funeral was held on Monday, 4 April at 11am at St Elizabeth's Church, Melville, New York.