NEW YORK —
The 70-year-old Irishman from the Bronx wears eyeglasses low on his nose. His gray hair is short-cropped, and his accent thick. He’s poured drinks, told stories and dispensed advice at O’Hara’s for 40 years. Those following the terrorist strikes were unlike any others. “There was no business here for two years afterward,” McCabe said, folding his arms and leaning on the shiny, dark wood of the bar. “It was terrible.” By 6 o’clock on a Saturday night, in “the city that never sleeps,” O’Hara’s was often empty.
“I don’t know how we stayed in business,” McCabe said.
‘I’m a little shook up’
Mike Keane started working at O’Hara’s in 1983, bought it with a business partner in 1987, and took over sole ownership after 9/11. On that day, Keane thought the bar might be destroyed.
He turned on a bar TV at 8:30 a.m. to watch the news, and within minutes the smoke billowing from the North Tower was on the screen. He and others climbed to the roof above O’Hara’s at 120 Cedar St., just around the corner from the towers. They saw the tower burning more than 90 stories overhead. Tattered, loose papers covered the roof. Keane and the others climbed back down. Seventeen minutes after the first hit, the second plane struck the South Tower.
“We knew something was going on,” Keane said. “We got everybody out. We went back up to check the roof one more time. There were about six of us [here] when [the South Tower] fell. I thought this place was going to come down.
“We stayed here for a while,” he added, “just to put out a bunch of papers that were on fire.”
Keane finally left before the second tower fell. “Then up at the corner here, the cop gets me and says, ‘Oh, good. Help me look for survivors,’” Keane recounted. “And I’m thinking, ‘Huh?’ I’m a little shook up.” They searched for a half-hour. “It was pitch black. We had a flashlight, and we were looking for people. And then the next [tower] came down, and we took off.”