Sunday, September 20, 2015

One Chapter Closes

Old photo
New photo
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 childbirth.
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.


  1. WONDERFUL WORK! What time on Saturday?

  2. We start at 9 and leave by 11 (too hot). Stay for as long or as short as you want.