Lower East Side Tenement Museum Readies Irish Immigrant Apartment for June 12th Opening

March 31, 2008

(Courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum)

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is getting ready to unveil a new apartment later this spring, and for the first time, an Irish immigrant family’s living conditions in the late 1860s will be featured.

On June 12 the Museum will unveil its first restored apartment since 2002. The new tour tells the story of the Moores, immigrants from Ireland, and explores themes such as public health and sanitation on the Lower East Side.

Uninhabited for the past 50 years, this apartment on the 4th floor of the tenement building will become the 1869 home of the Moore family. To recreate the 1860s, walls have to be moved, doors must be replaced and windows covered. Check the Tenement Museum’s webpage next month to see their progress.

Coincidentally, this very same Moore Family were parishioners at Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, where the New York Irish History Roundtable held several very popular tours back in 2006, and where the Roundtable co-sponsored an Irish language Mass this past March 14th to celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick.


Hope for St. Brigid’s Famine Irish Church?

March 30, 2008

(This article courtesy of Sheila Houlihan Fee and Edwin Torres, board members of the Committee to Save St. Brigid.)

The Committee to Save St. Brigid is happy to announce a major legal breakthrough. The New York State Court of Appeals in Albany has agreed to review the profoundly important legal issues raised by the Archdiocese of New York’s decision to demolish St. Brigid’s Church. The Court of Appeals is New York State’s highest court and generally, it takes on very few cases. It is enormously significant that they thought that the legal issues in this case have sufficient merit to warrant a review.

This beautiful old church was designed by Patrick Keely, an architect from Tipperary who built 600 churches in the USA. He employed local craftsmen from the nearby East River shipyards. One of the distinctive features of the church is its vaulted ceiling, crafted to resemble an upside down sailing vessel; unusual for a consecrated building, the shipwrights sculpted many of their own likenesses into the corbels. The impressive stained glass windows are steeped in history, too, for they were donated by parishioners in memory of relatives who had perished in the famine. The building was financed by public subscription, mostly on the nickels and dimes of those lucky enough to escape the Great Hunger. Construction was completed in an astonishing fifteen months and, in1848, St Brigid’s was dedicated by Archbishop “Dagger John” Hughes. So great was the crowd at the opening that some of the surrounding walls collapsed from the weight of onlookers; miraculously, no one was injured.

Will this lovely old church building be destroyed by the wrecking ball? Lawyers for the Committee to Save St. Brigid and the Archdiocese are in the process of presenting their arguments to the Court of Appeals in Albany. St. Brigid supporters hope this latest development leads to direct negotiations between the Committee and the Archdiocese.

For the latest news updates on this case, go to www.savestbrigid.com . You can demonstrate your solidarity with the St. Brigid’s community by expressing your written opinions to the Archdiocese of New York.

N. Y. Times Profile of Woodside, Queens

March 28, 2008

Those of you who are not regular readers of the Sunday N. Y. Times real estate section may have missed the recent profile of Woodside, Queens, Cheap, Convenient and Teeming.” The article notes the substantial if dwindling Irish community there, and goes on to tell about new immigrants from all over the world who now make the neighborhood their home.

As this isDonovan's Pub in Woodside, N.Y. in the real estate section, the article devotes space to the prices of houses, co-ops, and rental apartments—which are affordable, at least when compared to those in nearby Manhattan. The piece also talks about the abundant public transportation, including subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. Among the “things to do” in Woodside the article gives a favorable mention to the burgers at Donovan’s Pub on Roosevelt Avenue.

Gravestone Unveiling for Civil War Brigadier General Thomas Meagher (1823-1867)

March 25, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008, at one p.m. at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Meet at the Main Gates of the cemetery inside the 25th Street and Fifth Avenue entrance.


In 1848, Thomas Meagher, an Irish patriot, was convicted of sedition for urging armed rebellion against the British. Meagher was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but his sentence was commuted by Queen Victoria and he was sent to the penal colony in Australia. In 1852, he escaped and came to America. During the Civil War, he commanded the Irish Brigade of the Army of the Potomac. In 1867, he disappeared on the Missouri River, and his body was never found. His wife, Elizabeth Townsend Meagher (1840-1906) is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery, and his gravestone will be placed next to hers.

The unveiling will be followed by a trolley tour of Green-Wood Cemetery, featuring monuments and gravesites of Irish-Americans. The trolley tour is $10.00 per person.

For further information, please call Mike Burke at 718 344-2771.

New York Irish & the Fight for Free Speech

March 25, 2008
A Lecture by Christopher Finan
Sponsored by
the New York Irish History Roundtable
Saturday, May 3, 2008, at 2:00 p.m.
New York Genealogical &
Biographical Society
122 East 58th Street, Manhattan
Irish Americans have played prominent roles in the fight for free speech in the United States, and many of the most important and controversial battles for free speech in the United States were fought in New York City. For example, Irish nationalist Jeremiah O’Leary, a New York attorney and ardent supporter of Irish nationalism, was one of the Americans prosecuted for criticizing United States’ participation in World War I. O’Leary was publicly excoriated by President Woodrow Wilson for his pro-Irish and anti-War statements. O’Leary’s pro-Irish publication, the Bull, was suppressed by Postmaster General Burelson, and O’Leary himself was arrested and indicted for his characterizations of the military draft as part of an effort supporting the British colonial empire.
Similarly, Margaret Higgins Sanger, the daughter of an Irish immigrant stonecutter and a New Yorker, was prosecuted by special agent Anthony Comstock, acting on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, for mailing copies of her avant-garde women’s rights magazine, The Woman Rebel. Another Irish New Yorker, Governor Alfred E. Smith, helped bring an end to the Red Scare that followed the war and vetoed legislation that would have restricted the rights of Socialists and other critics of the status quo. And State Senator James J. Walker, later Mayor of New York City, led the forces that defeated a book censorship bill. “No woman was ever ruined by a book,” Jimmy Walker said during the debate. (Of course, some of the most vigorous Irish American defenders of American free speech were Irish and were appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court – Frank Murphy, William Brennan and Anthony Kennedy – but they lacked the good fortune of a New York background.)
Too little attention has been paid to the Irish American contribution to the fight for free speech, an issue in which the New York Irish can take pride in the achievements of their forebears. This unique program will focus on these achievements.Christopher Finan is a longtime supporter of the Roundtable and president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He is currently chair of the National Coalition against Censorship and a trustee of the Freedom to Read Foundation. He is the author of Alfred Smith: The Happy Warrior, and lives in Brooklyn.

Admission to this event is free. There is a suggested donation of $3.00 for refreshments.

John O’Connor Scholarship for 2007- 2008

March 25, 2008
John O’Connor Graduate Scholarship for 2007- 2008

For distinguished graduate work in the history of theIrish in the New York City area.
Open to graduate students at the masters and doctoral levels.

Deadline: submissions should be postmarked by June 14, 2008.
The John O’Connor Scholarship includes a $1000 award for distinguished graduate work in the form of scholarly unpublished writing covering anyaspect of the history of the Irish in the New York City area. Submissions should be primarily historical in character. Work completed in related disciplines in the humanities and social sciences will be considered.
Winning submission may be published in the journal, New York Irish History.
Submissions may be in any standard scholarly format and should be at least 4000 words in length, exclusive of notes and references. They must be typed double-spaced, and stapled. Three copies should be sent.
Please include a one-page resume, a one-page faculty-advisor recommendation, and a stamped self-addressed envelope.
Submissions should be postmarked no later than June 14, 2008.
Applicants should send three (3) copies of their work to:

New York Irish History Roundtable
Scholarship Committee
Post Office Box 2087
Church Street Station
New York, NY 10008-2087