Sunday, August 11, 2013
For the past 3 summers, Dr. Colm Donnelly and his teams from Queen’s Uni. in Belfast and UMass Lowell have been carrying out an archaeological dig in the front yard of St. Patrick Church. The project has now entered the next phase- to take three years worth of data and begin the analysis of what it all means about that first generation of Irish living in the Acre. Dr. Donnelly’s team will be returning next month to take a closer look at the hundreds of artifacts that were uncovered. Dr. Donnelly and his wife, Dr. Murphy, have also been studying the slate stones at St. Patrick Cemetery. The inscriptions on these stones tell us who was coming, what counties they came from, and why they were dying. Dr. Donnelly is planning on photographing the shamrock stones to create a permanent record of this part of Lowell’s Irish past. The church, a Patrick Keeley design from 1854, is an important artifact in itself. The team Dr. Donnelly will bring with him will use the most recent technology to make a very detailed documentation of the art and architecture of St. Patrick’s. That’s quite a job to get done in a few days.
This is where you come in. Each year before the annual fall tour of the cemetery, a few of us go in and clean some stones. The staff at the cemetery gives it a good grooming and we come by to sweep and tidy up around the stones. This year we need to get the stones in tiptop shape so the archaeology team can get the best photographs. They will be working in Yard One the week of September 16th. I’d like to form a couple of work teams to come out and clean the two Saturdays before that (September 7 and 14). We start early at 9 am and leave before noon. Yard One has few trees so be sure to bring a hat and plenty of water. If you can, please bring tools: knee pads, brooms, and a plastic ice scraper (it’s great for removing sod).
We need your help. The end product will be used by future generations to study the story of the Irish in Lowell. Every time I visit the cemetery or stand alone in St. Pat’s church, I truly get the feeling that everything that has happened has been working towards this goal. I believe I owe it to those who came before us, that their deeds and lives have not been forgotten. For those who use Facebook, the Irish Cultural Committee’s page (Lowell Irish) will be having a signup area for the cemetery work. If you can come either day, even for just an hour, it would help so much.
Even more news: The Irish Cultural Committee has been making its presence known as of late. You may have seen our show of flags at the Lowell Folk Festival. We’ll be manning a tent at the Solas concert at Boardinghouse Park on August 31st. We are on a major membership drive. Come see our new banner and check out events for 2013-2014. We even have some freebies to give away. The ICC has hosted dozens of social, religious, and educational events and has donated over a quarter million dollars to help with the upkeep of St. Patrick’s Church and supported other like-minded organizations. Our schedule is being formed now and will be released soon. Fill out a membership form while you’re there!
And start getting the word out- our annual cemetery tour will be Saturday, October 12th.