Thursday, July 30, 2015
What is it???
If you’ve walked or driven down Suffolk Street you’ve probably passed right by it without a second glance. Yet it’s probably one of the oldest artifacts in the Acre. When Dr. McGarry, pastor of St. Pat’s in the 1920s, decided to build a new rectory he wanted to keep a few “relics” from the old rectory. The diary of Bishop Fenwick in 1832, stated that the Catholics of Lowell raised funds to erect a rectory for the priests. There are no records what it looked like or exactly where it was. By the 1920s the rectory that was on Suffolk Street had seen better days. (This probably was not the same rectory that Fr. Mahoney built. Another entry says the rectory standing in the 1920s was about 60 years old.)
Dr. McGarry removed the bell, which called the priests to dinner, and had it installed on a small stand in the rectory hall. (There is still a bell there today.) The other relic he kept was a boot scraper. He had it removed from the old rectory and installed on the steps of the present rectory. Of course horse and carriage was the means of transport of the day and many streets were still hard-packed dirt. Who know whose boots used this scraper? Surely priest like Timothy, John, Michael, and William O’Brien were daily users. Maybe the great temperance advocate, Theobold Mathew. America’s first prelate William Cardinal O’Connell. The Know Nothing Smelling Committee from the 1850s that investigated the goings-on in the convent. Lowell’s first Irish mayor, John Donovan. Eamon de Valera future president of Ireland, on his visit to Lowell. Patrick Gilmore, composer of When Johnny Comes Marching Home, when he was married at St. Pat’s. Or just as importantly maybe your grandfather or great grandfather or great-great. What stories it could tell!