The mission of LowellIrish is to collect and preserve the history and cultural materials, which document the presence of the Irish community in Lowell. As the first immigrant group in a city that continues to celebrate its immigrant past, LowellIrish will serve as an advocate to support a better understanding of the historical, political, religious, and social function the Irish played in the formation of the city.
Needless to say Mary Shaw must have regretted the day the
new owner of the brewery, a fellow by the name of Hugh Cummiskey, took over the
place from Peter Finegan.Mr. Finegan
had offered his brewery for rent or sale. It had a prime location right across
the street from the Navy Yard in Charlestown.The year was 1822 and a very busy time for Cummiskey.In April he had struck up a deal with Kirk
Boot to supply workers for the widening and deepening canals in Lowell.About this same time he bought the brewery
and began offering, “porter, ale, and table beer of superior quality suitable
for either draught or bottling.”He also
offered his customers to leave their orders at the Exchange Coffee House and
they, “will be immediately attended to.”He was a busy guy making his way between Charlestown and Lowell keeping
tabs on all his projects.
Brewery Ad, Boston paper, 1824
Let’s get back to Mary.She owned a couple of acres directly across the street from the
brewery.She allowed a certain John
Corey to dig clay on her property to be used for manufacturing bricks.That is until Hugh Cummiskey dug a trench
that would allow waste water from his beer making business to gather in a pit
on the Shaw property.The offensive
discharge, which according to Mrs. Shaw was about 90 barrels a week, would
become stagnant and permeate the neighborhood.It became so bad that the board of health ordered her to fill in the
area.It cost her $83 to have the work
done. Mary became the plaintiff in a case against Hugh that went all the way to
the Massachusetts Supreme Court.The
jury ordered Hugh to pay $100 to Mrs. Shaw to pay her back for filling in the
drainage pit and money lost.
By 1825 Hugh signed a contract to help level the hills of
Boston and do some digging along Causeway Street.The group of 20 laborers that walked with him
to Lowell in 1822 now was part of the growing Paddy Camps of that city, and
Hugh was considered a labor and social leader of the group.He put the brewery up for sale in 1831 and
turned his attentions to the place he would call home until his final days.There, he takes on another task of opening a
West Indies Dry Goods Store on Merrimack Street (today a street sign (Cummiskey
Alley) still bears his name where the store was) where he sells spirits; that
is until he takes the pledge and becomes a temperance man.