Pre-Famine Irish Settlement in Lowell, Mass to be excavated
IrishCentral.com Staff Writer
Published Sunday, August 8, 2010, 7:12 AM
A major excavation of an Irish settlement in Lowell, Massachusetts near Boston will shed light on the Irish emigrant experience.
The archaeological dig is a joint effort between UMass Lowell University’s Center for Irish Partnerships and Queen’s University in Northern Ireland.
Students will be guided by archaeologists from Queen’s University when they excavate and catalog artifacts at the site of St. Patrick’s Church, which was built by Irish emigrants who worked on building canals in 1831.
The dig, which begins August 16, may well find items such as clay pipes, dishes and cutlery from the period, other Irish artifacts such as Famine era artifacts may also be found.
UMass Lowell has established nine international centers – African, Asian, European, Franco-American, Hellenic, Irish, Latin and South American, Middle East and Turkish.
“Our priority with these centers is to provide our graduates with a global perspective, one that will contribute to their career success. The opportunities the centers provide will deepen their understanding of multiple cultures, which in today’s shrinking world, is no longer optional, but required,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan.
“This archaeological dig is one of many concrete ways that students are already benefiting from our agreements with notable universities around the world.”
Comments From Dick MacDonald:
I have been at this church many times for Hibernian events. That area which is the textile area, was very active in building this country. When these immigrants came here from Ireland and Scotland they had a background in the manufacturing of textiles. Many mills were built on the rivers here and did very well for many years. There is a lot of Irish History still here . In fact Massachusetts has the largest Irish population per capita in this country – about 27%. The World’s largest textile mill is on the Merrimack River in Lawrence, MA right next to Lowell. Through the years the textile business was moved down South, because of the cheap labor, and most of these mills closed.. I remember one little bit of humor that I heard a few years back when the Irish were discriminated against regularly. There was a sign placed outside a mill that read “Help Wanted Irish Catholic Need Not Apply”. Someone hung a sign next to it and it said “Whoever wrote these words wrote them well for the same words are inscribed over the Gates of Hell”
Also with the discrimination bit, a lot of the cemeteries here have Irish buried in unmarked graves, etc. I have pictures that I took in a local cemetery here with the Irish graves totally overgrown etc. I wrote a letter to the cemetery and believe they cleaned it up. This area has problems like that in other cemeteries also.