Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lowell Irish - A Family Album

As usual I was looking through some early newspapers and there was an entry that there were plans being made to mark the centennial of the arrival of Hugh Cummiskey and his band of workers walking from Charlestown to Lowell in 1822.  The date was sometime around 1916.  One of the voices to plead for marking the centenary was none other than George O'Dwyer, who would later author The Irish Catholic Genesis of Lowell.  There were plans for a grand parade, a ball, some sort of permanent memorial, and monthly events with speakers from across the country.  They thought it was essential that planning begin that soon so everything would be ready for the date.  Well, sadly, little was done to make that milestone. 

At first I thought that planning so early was a bit over the top.  Then I began to think it over.  What a shame we don't have a record of what could have happened that year.  Imagine the stories and photos that would have been passed on to us!  What did Lowell's Irish community look like back then?  What would they have wanted to leave us?  All lost now.  Gone.  And then I had an idea, a crazy one I admit, but hear me out.

I think we're the generation that sort of breeches the old timers and that next generation. While Lowell's story partly started with the Irish, we haven't done a great job of recording our own past. Sure O'Dwyer and Mitchell did their part, but there is much more. Cummiskey's bicentennial will be coming in a few years. Only the Almighty knows if I'll be around. My thought is to start collecting pictures from any families who would like their names to be recorded for future generations, a kind of giant Lowell Irish family album. What form it could take I haven't gotten to yet, possibly as a virtual album kept on the LowellIrish website, or Center for Lowell History.
Many of you know I'm searching for photos to be in our next publication that will be out in March of 2016.  We've gotten some great photos.  The decision is going to be tough as to which to include.  (We're not even close to the number required by the editor, so look in those old albums and contact me)   There has been a request that we host an exhibit next year as well.  My thinking was wouldn't it be great to have the walls covered with all the old antique photos we've collected, but even greater to have another wall covered with the faces of today's Lowell Irish?
So here's my crazy idea.  I'd like to get pictures from the 1800s to the present. Family has always been at the core of being Irish and I want to show all the events of being in a family (church, politics, education, sports, social organizations). Folks can honor their first generation ancestors right down to their own grandkids. I want to collect hundreds, no hundreds of hundreds.  Just send along the photo with a family name, possible date, and maybe a note about the event. Your photo could end up in the book, the wall of the exhibit, or in the permanent archive to celebrate Cummiskey's bicentennial.  It will honor the past and be a gift to the future. 


  1. How would I send you pictures?

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  3. Thanks, Paul. I should have thought of that. Just send the picture as a jpeg with a brief description (name, date, event) and I'll archive them. dadumc@comcast.net