Thursday, January 24, 2013
Life on Gorham Street: the other Irish settlement
A second Irish settlement began evolving in Lowell's early years. The Paddy Camps grew and developed into the Acre neighborhood as the Irish began their settlement in the 1820s. By the 1830s the area around Chapel Street and Gorham Street took on its own Irish flavor. Just like their neighbors, the Irish on Gorham Street opened their own shops and eventually had their own church, Saint Peter's. After your shift at the mills ended you'd walk up Central, doffing your cap as you passed St Peter's and maybe stop by one of the shops before going home.
He began by working with Terrence Hanover cutting wood for making caskets. Being a good Irish son he lived with his mother and never married. He was a member of the Irish Benevolent Society. Upon his death he left $500,000 and real estate holdings all over the city.
If you did your shopping at McKearney's he would be sure to deliver your groceries for free. He advertised English breakfast teas and fine meats. He belonged to the Irish Benevolent Society, AOH, and Foresters. Maybe it was on one of these deliveries he caught cold and died on congestion of the throat. Two hundred friends and families walked from St Peter's to the cemetery.
If you were trying to get family members over from Ireland, Sheahan and his brother were there to help. Tickets began at $27.50. His shop was directly across from St Peter's Church. There you could buy tickets for the dedication of St John's Hospital. He arrived with his family during the Famine years from County Clare where he worked in the grocery business. He must have worked very hard since he retired after working 25 years. He was a devoted parishioner of St Peter's.
Besides operating his store, James Owens worked diligently for the Naturalization Club. An Irish native, he took his American citizenship seriously and helped over 900 people attain citizenship. He was a strong Democrat and served as Alderman. On the 4th of July he joined many other businesses by lavishly decorating their store fronts.