It would be difficult to overstate the role and contributions of Irish women both in their native land and in America. Friends from the Gorham Historical Society joined us as we wrote this story of mothers, wives and heroes.
America was a vital destination for Irish leaders who sought funding for important religious and political causes. Cities along the East Coast welcomed these inspirational leaders as they visited. Among them was Father Theobald Mathew, known to some as the Apostle of Temperance.
Baltimore and the greater Chesapeake region was passionate about providing relief to the Irish who suffered during the days of the Great Hunger. Donors were an example to other cities and towns, and were found in both religious and municipal settings.
Baltimore's early wave of Irish immigration was predominantly Protestant, and usually Presbyterian. They were the welcoming committee to Catholic Irish who arrived in a more desperate state, generally speaking. Hence the tri-color Irish flag has special significance for locals.. representing the Green who came to America just to survive, and the Orange who cared for them.
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.
A recent conversation told us that people want to know how a little Museum like ours made so many remarkable discoveries about the modest family that lived at 918 Lemmon Street. Wasn't Sarah an illiterate wife, mother and washerwoman? Yet our research has taught us about the significance of each of our forebears.
More than one million Irish had become landless and starving, and saw no option but to flee. They began decidedly urban lives in America, rather than the rural village life that their people had known for millenia. And yet, they remembered home.
An Irish hearth is often thought as the center of the home, where light and warmth brought about nourishment and comfort. The kitchen was (and is) the gathering place for family and guests, in whatever form it took over the years. Those who arrived in the years of the Great Hunger, and settled in homes like our 918 Lemmon Street must have marveled at the place.