The Irish Railroad Workers Museum and Shrine at 918 Lemon St. in Baltimore.
I visited The Irish Railroad Workers Museum and Shrine at the edge of downtown Baltimore.
The museum is dedicated to the tens of thousands of Irish who began immigrating to the city during the Great Famine and continued to the middle of the 20th century. Many worked at the nearby Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
The museum is contained within two row houses typical of the West Baltimore neighborhood of the period. There is a nice introductory video narrated by Martin O’Malley, former Baltimore mayor (1999-2007) and Maryland governor (2007-2015) in the museum welcome center, which also contains artifacts from the nearby St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church (now a Baptist worship space) and B&O rail yards. The adjoining house is restored as a typical workers’s home of the period.
The Memorial Garden in the rear features the shrine mural by artist Wayne Nield. The image depicts three phases of the Irish experience: the famine of the 1840s (right), the treacherous voyage across the Atlantic (center) and the new life in America (left), where the predominantly rural immigrants remade themselves as city dwellers.
Museum Board Member Barry Larkin and Managing Director Luke McCusker were very friendly and informative during my visit. I hope to return soon.
The shrine mural by Wayne Nield.
Today (26 September) the National Famine Commemoration is being held for the first time in Northern Ireland, in Newry, County Down.
In recognition of the fact that the Great Famine affected all parts of the island of Ireland, the location of the annual commemoration has rotated in sequence between the four provinces since 2008. The 2011 event was in Clones, County Monaghan, an Ulster county in the Republic of Ireland.
“The annual Famine Commemoration is a solemn tribute to those who suffered in the most appalling circumstances that prevailed during the Great Famine,” Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said in a release earlier this year. “While the scale of suffering was greater in some parts of Ireland than in others, all parts of the island suffered great loss of life and the destruction of families and communities through emigration.”
The BBC has a nice package of stories and info-graphs about the commemoration and the impact of the famine in Ulster/Northern Ireland.
Coinciding with this year’s commemoration is the release of the first paperback edition of “Commemorating the Irish Famine: Memory and Monument,” by Emily Mark-Fitzgerald. The 2013 book explores more than 100 monuments around the world that recognize the events of 1845-1852.
Here’s a look at three memorials in Northern Ireland. Here’s one in Philadelphia, which I hope to visit next week during a business trip.