Famine memorial on Deer Island to be unveiled in May

A view from the site on Der Island, where a Celtic Cross will soon be installed (photo courtesy Mike Carneyy

Plans to establish a monument in Boston Harbor to memorialize some 850 Irish who sought refuge in the mid-19th century only to die in quarantine on Deer Island within sight of the city are nearing completion with a formal unveiling dedication planned for Memorial Day weekend.
About 25,000 Irish souls arrived in our harbor on “coffin ships” between 1847 and 1849, and health officials steered the vessels to Deer Island, where the passengers were placed in quarantine.
There, within sight of the city, hundreds perished – from typhoid fever, pneumonia, dysentery, and consumption. One four-month-old baby died from whooping cough, another five-month-old from cholera. More than one baby perished from “marasmus,” a severe form of malnutrition that leaves a child emaciated and with almost no energy. Although many Irish did survive, those who didn’t were buried in unmarked paupers’ graves on the island.
A newly formed group, “The Irish Great Hunger Deer Island Memorial Committee,” was formed three years ago to work with the MWRA, which owns the island, and public-spirited business people from Boston and Winthrop to develop a new vision for the memorial.
The group plans a 16-foot classic Irish/Celtic granite cross with a four-foot concrete foundation on a majestic Deer Island promontory overlooking the harbor, from which visitors will see the shores of Boston, from the downtown skyscrapers to the city’s southern waterfront, including South Boston, Dorchester, and Quincy.
The ceremonies are planned for Saturday morning, May 25, 2019. Details of the program are still being organized.