Our immigrant ancestors usually arrived in a rather modest state. They were most often listed on ship passenger lists as laborers or farmers, and a considerable number arrived in American cities with very little money at all. Families saved as they could, and some gathered enough capital to open a business of their own, whether it was a pub, grocer, bakery, or confectionary. Arthur Murphy was a third-generation Irishman who did just that. He soon learned that such a life was not without its own share of both rewards and peril.
Let’s consider John J. Kernan and Family, on the occasion of his son Edward's 1st Communion. Edward was John and Sarah's 13th child. Dad was a railroad man, and the family lived in the shadows of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Mount Clare Shops.
Railroaders were the heroes of many a young boy, but were also honored by their peers. Daniel Willard was President of the B & O Railroad, and knew all about the working man. He had started at the bottom and worked his way to the top...and admired the men who worked under him.
Perhaps you have spent years enjoying and participating in Baltimore’s Irish dance community, whether through the step dance form commonly seen among the many Irish dance groups of the region, or as part of a set dance group such as the Emerald Isle Club... and participated in their ceilis. That’s not the case with this writer, but there has been much to discover as I have interacted with dancers and musicians on the subject.
Baltimore's Irish community did much to contribute to the establishment of a Free Ireland, and had some fun along the way. Some families with particularly capable members became major community leaders as well.
Baltimore's St. Patrick's Parade is a time of celebration (wait 'til next year), and a visual delight. Perhaps you have enjoyed it in its modern form. What attracts you to it, in particular? Is it the joy and spectacle of the day? The festivities are, for many, the purpose in and of itself. Yet, as with so many themes in Irish life, there is a deeper significance to it. Our American heritage, and our rights listed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the foundation of the expressions of the day.
What does it mean to be Irish? How have others defined that over the years? Let's explore the early generations in Baltimore and how they came to each others' rescue during tumultuous days...and still gather at the tri-color flag today.
You would think that the position of Lamplighter would be fairly straightforward, but even this modest work had a few political twists and turns. Let's talk about working for a simple public utility involved knowing the right people.
We thank Museum friend Steven G. W. Walk for sharing this remembrance of a young woman who had a heart for the struggling Irish and others who knew hunger intimately. She gave of herself in remarkable ways.
Once a rural setting, Baltimore's northeast region transformed over the years into Baltimore's most vibrant Irish parish. All facets of life were attended to among its streets and institutions, including care for the least of these. Let's reflect on the remarkable care given to many thousands in what became Baltimore's Old 10th Ward.
Baltimore's early Irish Catholics gathered in parishes close to the waterfronts and factories where jobs could be found, and they could be part of a supportive Irish church. A swelling population pushed the faithful outward, and an answer needed to be found on the edges of town...once the shadowlands of city life.
We are the most fortunate museum, as our visitors and friends each walk into the Museum with a story, and a reason to be there. They and we are enriched by our time together, and we emerge with a deeper understanding about the flow of time that led to our meeting. Here's some recent discoveries; how about sharing your stories with us?
New beginnings are nothing new in our neighborhood. We have undergone a remarkable period of learning and growing at the Museum, and even had time to reflect on a new era for the parish that James and Sarah Feeley called home for fifty years.
Two generations of fiddlers were front and center in the efforts to perpetuate Irish culture and traditions in the Baltimore area. Both were also central in the community's desire to maintain a flourishing dance tradition among the immigrant Irish and the generations to follow. Let's learn about Larry Ward and Mathew J. White.
America's early towns and cities were vibrant places, and churches asserted their presence with the pealing of bells. Among these were towns along major rivers like the Monongahela.
The safe arrival of each of our forebears from distant lands is remarkable. Some truly amaze us at all they accomplished in their new lives. Such a man was bell foundryman Henry McShane.
This is a first in a series of three articles that tell us about the tremendous accomplishments of a modest fella from Dundalk, Ireland. His work was a godsend to immigrant peoples who could not practice their faith openly in their home country, and particularly in Ireland.
The ambitions of men often lead to great accomplishments, but these are sometimes realized via acts of true humility. Such is the tale of Irish sea captain and business owner William Kennedy, who came to recognize the humanity of others.
Early railroaders are remembered in many ways by their families and associates. They lived fairly simple lives, but were part of bigger themes such as how nations were built. One such man had a locomotive named after him.
The Irish language was once headed towards oblivion, a result of its suppression by British authorities on several fronts. Their efforts failed due to patriots both in Ireland and among the diaspora, including the Irish expatriates of Baltimore. We continue its perpetuation today.
The world was changing, and Baltimore didn't want to lose its place as a major shipping center. Other cities were building canals westward to bring people and products to developing communities well off the Atlantic Coast. What did Baltimore's leadership come up with to compete with them, and how did they celebrate a new beginning?
Even the simplest railroading work has a fascination for many of us, and some even name their place of business after them. Such is the charm of the Gandy Dancer.
Our Museum is particularly blessed by being part of an engaged community that shares information about their ancestors and their role in the development of a young nation. One compelling photograph led to significant research on our part, both in Baltimore and in a distant town where this photo was taken.
Irish families just might have been perplexed with what to do with daughters who had so many limitations set upon them during the days of the Penal Laws, and beyond. There were few options for those born into poor Catholic families in the West of Ireland. America was different, but not immediately so. It took Irish leaders to move these young women towards their full potential.
Research into our heritage can take us pretty far afield, as it were. Cemeteries can present whole new stories...some personal, and others less so. You just might find your name inscribed on a marker, while another might name the home turf of an immigrant Irish hero. Here's what one search presented to us.
Perhaps you have spent years enjoying and participating in Baltimore’s Irish dance community, whether through the step dance form commonly seen among the many Irish dance groups of the region, or as part of a set dance group such as the Emerald Isle Club. That’s not the case with this writer, but there has been much to discover as I have interacted with dancers and musicians on the subject.
Irish families got creative in the old country when it came time to educate their children within their Catholic faith traditions. They got plenty bold once they were in America, as Brothers and women religious transformed a people.
Today we remember two generations that endured hardship, sacrifice and loss, and yet they persevered. Generations that followed did not quite know about their sacrifices, but we remember them today.
Waves of immigrants have gained a sense of belonging by seeing their own folks on the sports fields of America, and young boys have copied their heroes with their own teams, in different sorts of organizations and settings.
Today's issue was inspired by several comments from those who enjoyed knowing about the role "Horse-and-Cart" men played in the care and feeding of our immigrant ancestors. Catholic Irish knew a few things about horses, or lack thereof.
This series continues to present the realities of life for desperate emigrants aboard ship, new arrivals in America and the dramatic ways they cared for families as they settled in Baltimore. Food, of course, is central to any people's story...as it is to our own experiences today as we make our own best decisions about meals during the present crisis.
So many of us have a casual knowledge of the realities of Irish immigration, and that far off. New York's story, with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the forefront, is something we point at, and contemplate. Few know of the dramatic arrival of thousands in Baltimore, where expatriates and a shining light welcomed them.
Truly special stories were discovered as we researched the stained glass windows of St. Peter the Apostle Church. Among these was a spinster who served faithfully in one of Baltimore's most fabulous estates, and used her rewards to honor others.