Telling his story from Kingsbridge to Ground Zero


The Boys of Kingsbridge from Grammar School to Ground Zero is a documentary film that recounts the childhood friendship between five boys as they grew up in Kingsbridge and how they were drawn back together by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Thom MacNamara grew up in Kingsbridge filming movies with his friends on his father’s 8mm camera. They were comedy sketches with wardrobe changes and action films that required throwing mannequins off of MacNamara’s apartment building.

His friends in those films — Daniel McNally, Mike Hussey, Brendan Carroll and Ed O’Mahoney — all grew up in the same small neighborhood of Kingsbridge. In the opening of adult MacNamara’s new film, the boys reminisce about their childhood and the small-town feeling they had despite growing up in the Bronx.

They tell tales of running around on the streets of Kingsbridge and frequenting the basketball courts in the park at the corner of West 230th Street and Kingsbridge Avenue.

They would eat dinner after being summoned by their mothers, then reunite outside to climb fire escapes and roughhouse and partake in all more boyhood adventures.

As adults, the boys would find their way back to each other during one of the worst days in U.S. history.

Hussey became an electrician and worked two blocks from the World Trade Center, McNally became a member of the New York Police Department’s bomb squad. Carroll was doing HVAC work at 7 World Trade Center. O’Mahoney became a firefighter serving with Engine 76 and Ladder 22.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Hussey watched the second plane fly by his office window while Carroll was already helping to evacuate people from his building. McNally and O’Mahoney were individually called to the scene to assist after the buildings fell.

In MacNamara’s documentary, his friends’ collective recallections of the day are horrifying. They remember the sound of bodies hitting the pavement as people jumped from the flames towers.

They remember the sight of dismembered body parts, and the screams of those crying for help.

MacNamara learned of his friends’ involvement with 9/11 after the fact but was astonished that they had all managed to be on the scene assisting that day. He said he became inspired to tell their story and honor their sacrifice.

On the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, he released his film.

MacNamara said he cherished his upbringing in Kingsbridge, but, when he decided it was time to move on, he literally ran away to join the circus as a clown.

He toured the United States and Japan with Ringling Brothers before quitting and moving to Los Angeles to pursue his bigger dream of attending film school and working in movies and television.

Despite his film journey starting at the young age of 16 on the streets of Kingsbridge, it was not until 2010 that MacNamara left his job as a television executive to start his own production company that he began working on his own films again.

He said, working for himself has been rewarding despite the difficulties that come with it.

“Ultimately you’re responsible for everything and I mean everything. It’s much more difficult to do your own (films) but it’s much more rewarding because you decide what the final product is,” MacNamara said.

MacNamara said the main thing he misses growing up in Kingsbridge is the sense of community and friendliness. When he comes back to visit New York, he stops in and checks on his friends.

“Kingsbridge was a wonderful little community where we learned about our responsibility as people in a community. And, in the film the film, all four of these guys were driven by their sense of community,” MacNamara said.

Although MacNamara was not present in New York on the day that changed the nation, he said he felt the impact the same as everyone else.

“I get emotional when I think about it because everything changed, he said. “The entire country was together and obviously, it’s not like that now but I miss that, it was a wonderful feeling to feel like one country.”

Currently, MacNamara is working on bringing a live performance to a stage in the northeast. He wrote and produced a musical on the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem that has been shown in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He said he is often inspired by history and finding a good story with a new angle.

The film is set to be the kickoff of the Inwood Film Festival at the Opening Night Benefit on Thursday, May 23, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased at InwoodArtWorks.NYC.

Kingsbridge, documentary film, childhood friendship, Bronx, Sept. 11, 2001, Thom MacNamara, childhood memories, community, tragedy, 9/11, friendship, resilience, Inwood Film Festival