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08th Apr 2022

Tributes pour in for late Irish firefighter who served during 9/11

Ellen Fitzpatrick


Tributes are pouring in for a “brave and dedicated” firefighter from Co. Mayo who worked to save the lives of those devastated by the events of 9/11.

After working as a firefighter in New York City prior to the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, Michael Lyons passed away from cancer which he had been battling since the tragedy.

The 53 year old was originally from Swinford, Co Mayo before heading stateside where he had risen through the ranks to Captain in the New York Fire Department.

Michael studied history and English at the National University of Ireland, Galway before joining the FDNY in 1998.

He was later one of the responders on 9/11 where he directly saved the life of Pasquale Buzzelli who he pulled from the wreckage of the North Tower.

Like many other first responders at the World Trade Center that day, Michael was diagnosed with cancer and battle his illness for 6 years before he passed on March 29.

He is now said to be the 276th firefighter in New York to have died from a 9/11 related illness.

During his funeral on Monday, he was remembered as someone who was always willing to help others.

According to the Irish Central, his brother Martin said: “He made bonds forged through thick and thin situations, and based on today they clearly stood the test of time.

“A few years back, when he was asked why he joined the FDNY, Mike said, ‘The opportunity to make a difference and serve the greater good.’

“He provided hope with many on their own cancer journeys. It was never too much for him to reach out and speak to anybody.”

Michael had stayed in contact with Pasquale Buzzelli after he had rescued him from the wreckage and the two developed a friendship. Pasquale said in a tribute: “On September 11, 2001 I was trapped in the rubble after both towers were brought down. I prayed and called out for help and help arrived.

“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 demeanor, 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.”