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Woman researching family tree discovers mass grave of Irish emigrants

An American woman may have discovered a mass grave of Irish emigrants, which could provide details about the fates of hundreds of people from the 19th century that until now have been lost in history.

Woman searching family tree discovers mass grave of Irish emigrants

Annie McMullen of Rhode Island wanted to research her husband’s family history.

She discovered that her husband’s great grandfather had emigrated from Ireland with his three brothers to Waltham, Massachusetts during the Potato Famine.

Her research revealed that one of the brothers, Charles, died in a freak accident and was buried at Waltham’s Church Street Cemetery, a common internment site for Irish Catholics from the surrounding area.

Annie went to visit the cemetery only to find that the site now had several homes, a church and a school built on it.

Determined to find out what had happened to Charles, Annie got hold of a map from the period and discovered that the site was indeed once used as an Irish Catholic cemetery.

Further research led her to discover that in the 1940s, the city of Waltham decided to use the site to expand the local school.

More than 1,000 bodies were moved from Waltham to the Calvary Cemetery in Boston including that of Charles.

Annie went to see Calvary Cemetery only to find a large open field area with no signs of headstones.

A little bit of digging revealed that the site does contain several headstones, which were laid flat on the ground on top of the bodies.

Over time they had become buried themselves due to the neglect of the entire site.

Annie uncovered several more headstones, with markings stating the corresponding bodies belonged to emigrants from various counties in Ireland including Cork, Donegal, Kerry and Galway.

She spoke to waltham.wickedlocal.com about the incredible discovery: “I began to wonder about all the individuals who have been searching their Irish family history and have not been able to find where their family members are buried.

“I am hopeful that we may be able to connect many Waltham/Newton (residents) and other individuals of Irish descent with their ancestors.”

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The site will now be investigated fully by The Irish Ancestry Research Association (TIARA). It is estimated that there could be up to 900 headstones to uncover and identify.

Annie and her husband Bill will be part of the volunteer team helping at the dig.

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10 thoughts on “Woman researching family tree discovers mass grave of Irish emigrants

  1. Gabrielle M. Harding

    Wonder if I would still find family vault in Trim going back to 1700s and in Dublin?

    26/06/2016 at 9:17 pm
  2. Vicki Doody

    One more British atrocity against the Irish. This is a wonderful project and I wish you heaps of success here. Both my husband and are australian with Irish Ancestry

    04/06/2016 at 8:23 am
  3. kay kitchen

    Yes, that’s right – it was a pretty terrible time for the poor Irish. The English had armed guards protecting the wagons carrying the food to the ports to ship to England to stop the Irish attacking the wagons and stealing the food

    04/06/2016 at 2:01 am
  4. Burke Elizabeth

    I totally agree with you Patsy Kitt. It was a deliberate holocaust of the Irish people and it is my opinion that the British Government acknowledge this fact of history and the Queen should apologize to the Irish people and their decendants for the crime against humanity that was committed in the 1840’s.

    28/12/2015 at 12:14 am
  5. Good story and great research, but poor journalism. This is NOT a mass gave. That denotes many persons buried together, not usually marked as t oa ll certainly not marked with individual markers.
    Happy though that someone is taking time to rectify a wrong.
    Well done.

    27/12/2015 at 6:48 pm
  6. Patsy Kitt

    Brilliant research many people may now be able to peice together their family tree. One thing however I must say please don’t call it a potatoe famine it was a holocaust in people starved while food was plentiful the food was shipped to England by the tonne while people in Ireland were let to starve a shameful part of British history.

    27/12/2015 at 7:28 am
  7. Shocking, SHOCKING how little the ancestors mean to some people..that the bodies were lost and ignored that way? I’m so very glad that this is being rectified, and grateful for Annie and Bill and TIARA. Thanks for the story.

    26/12/2015 at 10:30 pm
  8. Bonnie & James Heffernan

    Our Family Tree Fowler & Heffernan

    21/09/2015 at 2:26 am
  9. Pat Ford

    Sad that these graves markers were lost and happy that they are now found and the names and remains will be identified.

    20/09/2015 at 2:04 pm
  10. Elizabeth Ernest

    Great work, well done

    20/09/2015 at 2:39 am

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