Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Killed by a Blast" Patrick Tiernan July 4, 1840

Patrick Tiernan's stone,
St. Patrick Cemetery
How you prepared to celebrate the Fourth of July probably had a lot to do with the kind of family you came from.  Many of Lowell’s citizens made their way to rum shops to fill their stoneware jugs in order to toast the day.  On the other extreme was the Cold Water Army who had taken the pledge and had chosen non alcoholic beverages as their drink of choice.  Those who were more interested in politics were reminded to wear their Harrison badges to any festivities.  Many of Lowell’s citizens were taking carriages to Concord’s sacred battleground to see the giant parade, hear the Declaration of Independence being read, and then partake in a free supper.
Those who stayed in the city had to find their own ways of celebrating.  While many would spend that Saturday gathering with family and friends, others created their own entertainment.  Some liked to celebrate by firing off pistols or firecrackers.  One tragic victim of the day was Patrick Tiernan.  The next day’s newspaper recorded the events.  A few boys and men got together and brought along a small cannon.  As youth would do, they loaded it with a double charge.  The cannon exploded and the shrapnel flew into the 16 year old’s face.  As period newspapers would do, the details were rather gruesome.  Half the boys face was torn off.  The eye socket and nasal area were exposed.  He lingered until the next day and died at noon.  He was taken to the Catholic Cemetery (St. Patrick) and was interred.
That is about all known about Patrick or his family.  Trying to find the rest of his family’s story has proven futile, not too amazing for anyone else trying to locate Lowell’s Irish in this period.  Interestingly his stone tells us most about him.  He was born in County Longford and was just 16 years of age.  He is one of the few to have a slate stone, most internments were either unmarked or marked with a wooden cross or marker.  Just as interesting, is that his stone is one of the few shamrock stones in the cemetery.  This leads one to believe his family must have had the means to purchase such a stone.  Adding to his family’s tragedy is what is included to the stone’s inscription.  Patrick’s 24 year old brother, Thomas Tiernan, died in New York just one week later.  No other details were added or are known.

NOTE: When we first started doing cemetery tours almost 20 years ago, Patrick's stone was in very good condition.  Unfortunately today it is broken into a dozen pieces with no hope of restoration due to cemetery policy.

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