The mission of LowellIrish is to collect and preserve the history and cultural materials, which document the presence of the Irish community in Lowell. As the first immigrant group in a city that continues to celebrate its immigrant past, LowellIrish will serve as an advocate to support a better understanding of the historical, political, religious, and social function the Irish played in the formation of the city.
Dr. Eileen Murphy, Queen’s University (Belfast), joined us
this week in completing this phase of our cemetery research.Passersby may have taken a second look as
Eileen, Brenda, Walter, and I walked about Yard One of St. Pat’s, Old English,
and School St. Cemeteries.Using the
technique stone conservator, Paul Butterworth, taught us, we reshot dozens of
stones as a permanent record of our slates before we allow them to be covered
over once gain preserving them for the next generation of researchers.We walked about the cemetery with large
cardboard boxes to provide shade and with mirrors to aim sunlight at angles on
the slate stones.The result was
amazing!Comparing the photos we had
from a few tears ago and using this technique really shows the difference.Unfortunately we were able to do a few dozen
stones when we know there are dozens of dozens that could be done.
Eileen & Walter at work
Dr. Murphy’s work goes beyond taking photos.She went about measuring stones to compare children’s
She is also looking
for patterns such as who had shamrock stones?Were they from the same region?Did the same carver make all the stones?Were Yankee stones any different than their Irish counterparts?We also started analyzing the data in the Hanavor
(burial) books.What patterns do we see
here?Causes of death?Ages?By far children are listed in the books.Cause of death is often listed as teething.Women’s deaths were by consumption of during
stones with adults’.
If you’re available this Saturday, it will be out last
cleaning day before the tour.We will be
cleaning and recording data from the stones of the Sisters who served at St.
Patrick’s, Notre Dame Academy (Lowell), Immaculate Conception, and Sacred
Heart.(The other orders who taught at
different Catholic schools in Lowell had their own community grounds at other
cemeteries.)Any help, even for ½ hour
would be appreciated.