When the Irish arrived en masse to the United States in the late 1840’s, many settled in Southwest Baltimore City. What made Baltimore, Maryland so appealing to immigrants was the hope of finding work on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.
Their legacy is celebrated today at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, an Irish American historic site in Baltimore. The museum officially opened on June 17th, 2002.
Today I’m delighted to sponsor a reader giveaway. The prize is a DVD, From Famine To Fortitude, produced by The Irish Railroad Workers Museum. It recounts the story of the Irish experience in Baltimore, and will appeal to history buffs, or Irish Americans with an interest in our ancestors’ journey.
Before I share the details of our giveaway, let me first tell you about my visit to this wonderful museum….
An Irish Tourist’s Experience In Baltimore, Maryland:
Two years ago my family took an east coast summer trip to visit New York, Washington DC, and to see our favorite soccer team, Liverpool, play a friendly game in Baltimore.
While there, I sneaked in a quick visit to “The Irish Shrine”. I should have remembered to leave my four kiddos with their Dad at the hotel. But being a good Irish American mom I thought I might introduce them to their heritage and possibly kindle within them a burning love of history.
Bad move. I should have known my trio of then five year olds, and eight year old son, wouldn’t have the slightest scrap of interest in a museum, unless of course it was a Children’s Museum with flashing lights, knobs to twist, levers to pull, and a plethora of interactive activities.
What’s happening to the world?
Kids are addicted to playing gadgets. An overexposure to electronics is dulling their minds, so that unless they are bombarded with snippets of visual stimuli, they are unable to appreciate the depth of knowledge before them. I’ll get off my soap box now, because let’s face it – that’s a topic for another day.
And to tell you the truth, I simply wasn’t thinking. My kids were just too young to really understand the wonderful experience offered at this quaint, little museum.
The reason it has taken me two years to share these photos is that they were just plain terrible. That is until now. I recently discovered the incredible power of photo editing, with lighting adjustments.
Little hands and fingers, heads and turned backs, which were ruining my shots have all been chopped and cropped. Bad lighting has been somewhat compensated for, and now I believe these photos are worthy of sharing, especially if they help spread the word about this urban, historical gem.
This site consists of a group of 5 alley houses, originally the homes of Irish immigrants who worked for the adjoining railroad. The museum is housed in two of these houses, at 918 and 920 Lemmon Street.
“The Irish Railroad Workers Museum
is part of a larger history-rich community,
unusual because it is still intact,
consisting of the places where the Irish lived,
worked, worshipped, and were buried.”
The homes in this historical district were slated for demolition back in 1997, but luckily a group of concerned citizens recognized these houses were not just bricks and mortar, but could be a surviving monument to the lives of the Irish who first called Baltimore home.
Thanks to their efforts and dedication this historical district still stands today and includes the B&O Railroad Museum, St. Peter the Apostle Church, the Hollins Street Market, and St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery.
This old chest of drawers is a treasure trove for anyone who enjoys a good immigrant tale. Within the drawers lie pictures of Irish men and women from days gone by. Each picture is linked to an audio recording, telling of that immigrant’s experience.
I could have spent hours listening to these stories, but alack and alas, it was not to be. I had listened to possibly two sentences of the first narration, when I had to interrupt with a gentle plea:
“Don’t touch that!”
followed shortly afterwards by a louder motherly yell:
“Don’t break that.”
My Irish accent bellowing from the top floor may have led visitors on the lower level to believe the place was haunted by an Irish motherly ghost from many moons ago.
Speaking of the supernatural, look at the middle portrait of the three, poised on the old trunk. I can’t remember if this old black and white photo was so eerie looking in real life, or if this is some illusion from my camera.
Or perhaps, she is an Irish mother of old, whose spirit was stirred by my crew’s high jinx. She was probably joining in my chorus, warning them not to lay a finger on anything.
My kids didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to any of the beautiful memorabilia housed within the museum, until low and behold we went out to the small back yard.
And there it stood!
The highlight of our tour!
The moment my kids laid eyes on this wooden cubicle, they were fascinated. I was flabbergasted. It took an unexpected encounter, with a rest room from days gone by, to stir my little ones’ interest in the past.
“But what if it was raining?” they asked.
“They ran for it,” I explained.
“And what happened in the snow?”
“Rain, hail or shine, this was the loo.”
The outhouse was a conversation piece for the rest of our trip.
I wish to extend my gratitude to the lovely gentleman who took us on our tour of this fabulous museum. I know I wrote your name on a little piece of paper, which got buried in the filing cabinet of my purse, never to be seen again.
Thank you for your patience, your kindness, and your wonderful lessons on the Irish American experience. I thoroughly enjoyed our chat.
And thanks for reassuring me, not to worry about my kiddos’ eagerness to keep moving on, and checking things out. You truly made our visit to The Irish Railroad Workers’ Museum a pleasure.
Above all, I appreciate the hours you volunteer to preserve the stories of our immigrant forefathers, who paved the way for us in this vast and amazing country.
While at the museum I purchased copies of the DVD From Famine To Fortitude: The Irish Experience in Baltimore. This wonderfully researched documentary tells the story of Irish immigrants who left Ireland at the time of the Great Hunger to make a new life in America.
To enter our giveaway just leave a comment on this blog post by noon on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014 at noon. You can leave any comment you wish. What you write does not affect your chances of winning.
If you need some inspiration, why not tell us if you have visited any Irish American historical site in the US that commemorates our ancestors.
A winning comment will be chosen randomly. Remember to leave your e-mail so I can contact you should you win. Your e-mail will not be published or shared, just used to for contact purposes.
The winner will be announced on Saturday August 23rd, at the end of this post. I’ll send the winner an e-mail so I can mail the prize.
Best of luck to all our entrants.
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014: – The winner of this DVD is Debbie Chartoff. Thanks to all who entered and supported this little giveaway.
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom