Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We've only just begun!

Today is a day that will go down in Lowell-Irish (or is it Irish-Lowell?) history.  Well sort of.  I met with Ed and Brad from AOH.  Luckily these 2 guys actually know what they're talking about when it comes to web design, blogging, and drop boxes.  I still have an 8 track player.  The three of us got together and they showed me a prototype for a web design.  We've got a basic outline.  Now we need content.  That's where you, dear readers, need to step up.  Not I, you say?  Nay, nay.  You might not have an area of expertise, but perhaps you have some pictures or ideas, or know someone who does.  For example: anyone into reading?  How about a volunteers for a favorite books about Irish Lowell (fiction, research, kids books, in print/out of print)?  Consider it. 

Our first volunteer (yuk yuk) has already stepped up.  Walter Hickey is coordinating a page for genealogy research.  It will be a how-to and a list of links to begin or continue your search.  Walter is without a doubt the most knowledgeable person Lowell has when it comes to family searches. 

Anyone out there have histories of Irish parishes in Lowell?  The Saint Pat's one is somewhere on my hard drive, but how about the others?  Be sure that you cite the sources if you find one.  Or how about writing it yourself.  St. Columba is the patron saint of plagiarists.  He exiled himself to Scotland as a punishment for copying a book.  Hey, did you know there was a St. Columba's in Lowell?

A last thought- look at the comments.  Walter has given a good response to a reader's request.  Keep checking in and don't be afraid to comment.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Web Site Thoughts

Plans are being formed for starting a LowellIrish website.  We're trying to think of categories that people may be interested in reading.  Some areas might be: churches, school, organizations, biographies, genealogy, cemeteries, maps, photos, and a reading list.  Some of this work has already been done.  Maybe some of the readers have written pieces that could be added.  Take a look at the list.  Any thoughts?  Additions?  Deletions?  Any volunteers?  Do you have an area of expertise? 

Frank Talty reminded me that WBUR did a nice little piece on the dig.  Have a listen if you're interested.

Walter Hickey is a walking encyclopedia of Lowell info.  He sent the following as a little footnote into the past.  It is an article from 1831, a short while after the dedication of Saint Patrick Church.  It is an example of the type of info we could collect and add to the website.  The content tells what those Irish pioneers were going through.
We are informed that much feeling exists in town respecting an attempt by John R. Adams, Esq., to remove the Irish by force from their present settlement. Should they be removed immediately, many of them must come upon the town. Many of them suffer by cold, and for the want of comfortable habitations, which it will be impossible for them to procure before next Spring. It may be, for aught we know legally right to force them from their cabins to endure the cold, and face the storms of the coming winter, without money, and without the power to procure a shelter from the northern blast, but there is neither natural right nor humanity in the business. Should they be driven out, it will prove an expense, probably of several thousand dollars, to the town, between this time and next May.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Since the dig at St Patrick's began, folks have been asking what will happen next.  That is all up to us.  Firstly, thanks have to go out to Dr. Frank Talty at UMass Lowell (  If you have a moment drop him a line and tell him what you think and your thoughts about a future dig..  As the area was being covered over, the team felt adamant that they had to return.  The hope was they would find 1 artifact.  They found 1352!  And that was in 2 small pits.  There's lots of history in that churchyard.  If you're thinking of going in with a steam shovel, don't!  One thing I learned was the value of the science of archaeology.  They learned as much from the days where they found nothing but soil strata, than from the artifacts.

Ok, here's what's up.  I've got a few meetings set up for this coming week.  There is a little worm inside my head.  It's telling me it is time (past time) to create an online history of Irish Lowell.  This could include histories of the churches, schools, organizations, and the cemeteries (St. Pat's, St Mary's, & St. Peters.  Ah, didn't know there was a St. Peter's did you?).  We could also include a genealogy how-to page and some resources folks can check out.  Photos.  We've got dozens.  Maybe a volunteer can scan the photos and we can archive them for future generations.  Bibliography of sources already in print.  There are lots of idea.

As Dr. Donnelly, one of the Belfast guys said, "There's no point to any of this unless people are interested."  So if enough of you think it's worth it, add to the blog.  If you've got an area of expertise (writing, editing, scanning, history, photography, information technology, research, filing............) let me know.  If you think it's just a great idea, that's great too.  We will need words of encouragement.

Right now there are temporary plans during St. Patrick's Irish Cultural Week for an exhibit on the artifacts found and a brief chat about how it came about.  Oh, I'll give you another tidbit, no one else knows.  There is a professional researcher looking at all the cemetery data that few people know about.  She's possibly making a visitation and doing some analysis for us.  Anyone looking for a PhD dissertation?  I've already done the research for you.

Please, pass this blog along to anyone interested.  And ask them to do the same.  My goal is to have more bloggers on this site than Lady Gaga.