Irish Railroad Workers Museum

Irish Railroad Workers Museum The museum is a historic preservation site that tells the story of the Irish presence in Southwest Baltimore City in the late 1840's, particularly as railroad families who lived in the neighborhood that surrounds the B&O Roundhouse.

What is the Irish Railroad Workers Museum? The Irish Railroad Workers Museum is a historic site in Baltimore Maryland that celebrates the history of the immense Irish presence in Southwest Baltimore in the late 1840's. The museum officially opened on June 17th, 2002. This site consists of a group of 5 alley houses where the Irish immigrants who worked for the adjoining B&O Railroad lived. Two of the houses, 918 and 920 Lemmon St., are the museum. The Irish Railroad Workers Museum is the centerpiece of a larger historical district that includes the B&O Railroad Museum, St. Peter the Apostle Church, Hollins Market, and St. Peter the Apostle Cemetery. The museum is a project of the Railroad Historical District Corporation, a non-profit organization.

The resurgence of a city needs some heroes. That goes for modest city blocks as well, and we remember Judge Tom Ward tod...
07/30/2019

The resurgence of a city needs some heroes. That goes for modest city blocks as well, and we remember Judge Tom Ward today. He was a great man who accomplished important things. These included leading the fight against some entrenched view points at City Hall, and winning. The homes of the famine era Irish were worth saving; he just knew it! Tom led the way, and teams of workers rallied around him. Debris was removed, walls were secured, and the interior and exterior work began. Neighbors and friends were part of the team, and a Museum slowly emerged. He did not do this alone; Tom enlisted helpers both great and small to accomplish something remarkable.

How can a great American city return to its former glory? The first step is placing their trust in people with a vision....
07/29/2019

How can a great American city return to its former glory? The first step is placing their trust in people with a vision. Dr. Mary Ellen Hayward is the Museum's curator, and she saw the possibilities, while some politicians only saw fodder for a wrecking ball. Mary Ellen knew that restoration was possible on the 900 block of Lemmon Street, and she was capably aided by a team of professionals and amateurs. Could conditions be much worse than they were in these homes, back in 1997? She was a believer, as was a little friend who came to help.

Thanks to each who joined us for our Saturday presentation, "Baltimore's Lazaretto Point, Orphan Boys and a New Irish Pa...
07/29/2019

Thanks to each who joined us for our Saturday presentation, "Baltimore's Lazaretto Point, Orphan Boys and a New Irish Parish". We told the story of Baltimore's receiving and caring of the famine ship passengers in 1847, and the historic spot where they came ashore. Every American city had a lazaretto, or "quarantine station for maritime travelers".
Civil, ethnic, medical and religious leaders brought comfort and care to a desperate people, including those orphaned by the trauma that surrounded them. Thanks to the Library of Congress for this compelling image of the Lighthouse, with a Civil War encampment just beyond....at Fort McHenry.

Lazaretto Point Lighthouse, with a Civil War era view of Fort McHenry just beyond, circa 1862.
07/29/2019

Lazaretto Point Lighthouse, with a Civil War era view of Fort McHenry just beyond, circa 1862.

It was a joy to welcome three families to the Museum on this hot summer day. Each came to explore their heritage in a de...
07/20/2019

It was a joy to welcome three families to the Museum on this hot summer day. Each came to explore their heritage in a deeper way, and our visitors included descendants of the Dorsey family. We found an 1852 marriage record of their first generation in America, much to their delight. Visitors from indianapolis shared stories of a rich Irish community that thrives there. A couple from Boston, in town to see the Sox, learned about Baltimore's early Irish homes and community....hoping that their day might end with a win at Camden Yards. Not sure about that, but each couple was capably led by Board Member Cecilia Wright. A wonderful day!

I'm thinking about hominy today. You know what it is, right? Baltimore was home to hominy canning plants up until recent...
07/17/2019

I'm thinking about hominy today. You know what it is, right? Baltimore was home to hominy canning plants up until recently, and boiled these oversize corn kernels until they could do no harm to anyone. It was a cheap side dish that seemed to have a local following.
Our ancestors had a different view of the food 142 years ago. Railroading families had enough of the pay cuts that came their way, and forced them to eat hominy rather than potatoes at their meals. You take away a famine survivor's ability to buy potatoes, and tell them to eat hominy instead? Those are fighting words, said every homemaker, and the man of the house joined in the nationwide strike that resulted...begun here in Baltimore,142 years ago.

We welcome all sorts at the Museum, and one of our great delights is meeting people from near and far. Visitors from the...
07/15/2019

We welcome all sorts at the Museum, and one of our great delights is meeting people from near and far. Visitors from the Baltimore area come thick and fast, while a healthy measure come from out of state, including recent visitors from Louisiana, Virginia, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Our membership mailer had a great response from friends in Washington State, and baseball season brings several from Boston each year. Any summer visitors coming to your house? Be sure to bring them to America's only 19th Century, urban, working class, original house museum.....that's us!

This bucolic scene of boats entering Baltimore's Harbor, circa 1862 is picturesque and memorable. Yet within this peacef...
07/12/2019

This bucolic scene of boats entering Baltimore's Harbor, circa 1862 is picturesque and memorable. Yet within this peaceful facade sits two protectorates that played essential roles in the preservation of one of America's great cities. Fort McHenry (across the channel) has had its story told often enough, perhaps; that lighthouse in the foreground is another matter. Come join us on Saturday, July 27th as we present "Baltimore's Lazaretto Point, Orphan Boys and a New Irish Parish". Famine ships arrived with dangerous cargo, but no matter; their countrymen gathered at the waterfront to do God's work in May '47. It's a miraculous story, and we're going to tell it....see you at 11:00.

Captain James McDonnell and company ( Thanks to Christine Marshall for this wonderful family photo). This was Company 8....
07/06/2019

Captain James McDonnell and company ( Thanks to Christine Marshall for this wonderful family photo). This was Company 8......on W. Mulberry St., circa 1910

Irish Railroad Workers Museum
07/04/2019

Irish Railroad Workers Museum

As we celebrate Independence Day, we give thanks for being people of a nation where hope and a future have been found by millions. Among these was Timothy M. Hurley, born in County Cork in 1878. His parents brought him to America just a few years later, and they settled in the shadows of the Baltimore and & Ohio Railroad's Mount Clare Shops. His father was illiterate, and a laborer for the system; his son would travel a few rungs up the ladder in just a few years. Still a B & O man, he became a special detective for the railroad's police force. He and his wife Lilly raised several daughters at 1315 W. Pratt St., and practiced their faith at nearby St. Martin's Church.

We hope you enjoy this wedding portrait; they married on June 25, 1902.

Our Memorial Garden in Bloom.
07/01/2019

Our Memorial Garden in Bloom.

We had a delightful day on Saturday, June 29th as we presented "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture" to a large appr...
07/01/2019

We had a delightful day on Saturday, June 29th as we presented "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture" to a large appreciative audience. Linda McHale Poggi and her talented dancers put the art form on full display, and Linda told us the stories behind Irish dance and its significance within a restored Irish culture. Musicians of renown were part of the day: Billy McComiskey, Myron Bretholz and David McKindley-Ward intertwined effectively with the young ladies' steps, and performed the traditional music of the Irish people for many. It was a wonderful, warm experience!

Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture, 6/29/19
07/01/2019

Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture, 6/29/19

We are making final preparations for our third Heritage Event of 2019, titled "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture"....
06/27/2019

We are making final preparations for our third Heritage Event of 2019, titled "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture". We welcome you to pay at the door, and walk right in like you own the place: beer, wine and sodas for a hot day; lunch at noon, and sets of dancing and traditional Irish music from true artists in the field. Linda McHale Poggi's Power Point presentation on the history of Irish dance will delight many of us. Hope to see you on 6/29, 11-3 p.m.

James and Sarah Feeley welcome you to join them at their home on Saturday, June 29 as we celebrate "Irish Dance and its ...
06/22/2019

James and Sarah Feeley welcome you to join them at their home on Saturday, June 29 as we celebrate "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture". She's making a little lunch for us all, so be sure to register on our web site ( www.irishshrine.org ) so she can get a good count of attendees. We're hoping that our count will be in good shape come Monday morning, so take the plunge, like the Feeley family did, circa 1871. Hooray for Summer along the Chesapeake!

McHale advanced dancers.
06/21/2019

McHale advanced dancers.

A beautiful harp is located in our Museum's Memorial Garden. It was designed in the fashion of Brian Boru's harp at Trin...
06/17/2019

A beautiful harp is located in our Museum's Memorial Garden. It was designed in the fashion of Brian Boru's harp at Trinity College, Dublin by our original Board President, Bill Adler. He has lovingly maintained it over these past twenty years. and continues his service as a Board member today. Bill is one of many who volunteer at the Museum, including fundraisers, crafts people, brick layers, event organizers, gardeners, techies and docents. Couldn't do it without them!

A Great Day for our brick install......6-15-19
06/15/2019

A Great Day for our brick install......6-15-19

We were so pleased to be awarded a Heritage Investment Grant from our friends at Baltimore National Heritage Area. We pr...
06/07/2019

We were so pleased to be awarded a Heritage Investment Grant from our friends at Baltimore National Heritage Area. We proposed six fun and educational events to celebrate our heritage, and they are going well so far......but something remarkable has happened along the way. Our guests have been dazzled by their experiences with us.

All I know about our next event, "Irish Dance and its Role in the Culture", is that we will be celebrating with some twinkling stars of the firmament. Linda McHale Poggi has been part of Baltimore's Irish Dance community for years, and will give a verbal session on the development of the dance form for many of us who want to know. Her talented dancers will demonstrate the art with a trio of renowned musicians:Billy McComiskey, David McKindley-Ward and Myron Bretholz. Can you believe we are gathering this much talent, all at once? So exciting!

Be sure to purchase your tickets for our 6/29 event (Lunch, beer and wine, soft drinks included) on our web site... www.irishshrine.org .

Irish Dancers from McHale School of Irish Dance
06/07/2019

Irish Dancers from McHale School of Irish Dance

Our Museum is a magnet for many who are fascinated by their heritage, and we have several Board members who love telling...
06/06/2019

Our Museum is a magnet for many who are fascinated by their heritage, and we have several Board members who love telling the stories. Among these is Cecilia Wright, who was a featured speaker at the Garrett County Celtic Festival on June 1. She has played many roles at the Museum, including leadership of full children's events and our annual Wake Presentation ( mark your calendars....it's on October 26 this year). We are so thankful for her contributions!

Sarah Feeley, the woman of the house, has been celebrating since her husband James FINALLY got the step stove in. Her co...
06/01/2019

Sarah Feeley, the woman of the house, has been celebrating since her husband James FINALLY got the step stove in. Her cooking has become a safer operation all around, and her first appliance does things she's always wanted...like baking and roasting in that oven toward the back. Several of her girl friends have come by to see the fancy new stove; how about you? We look forward to your next visit, and we will tell you all about it. We're open Fridays 11-3, and Saturdays 11-4.

Our Museum features interesting displays on the working life of Irish men from an earlier time. Several of our important...
05/30/2019

Our Museum features interesting displays on the working life of Irish men from an earlier time. Several of our important images were received as a gift from Museum friends. We thank Henry Gaidis for this photograph of "Gandy Dancers", attributed to B & O Railroad workers.
We have included this image in our collection binder, titled "High Kings of Baltimore"....hope you stop by and see it sometime soon!
Gandy Dancers were crews of men who “pushed” sections of track back into a better alignment, and made other adjustments and repairs to keep tracks in good shape. These men were also referred to as section hands, and typically were unskilled laborers. Many crews had songs or cadences that they used to prompt a moment to push the tracks as a group, using lining bars, or levers, to get the section of track back into a better alignment.
Other tools were used to lift ties and replace ballast that had moved from under the ties, due to the centrifugal force of passing trains.

We were happy to volunteer as a neighborhood organization and help contribute to the 36th Annual SOWEBO FEST as a Sponso...
05/29/2019

We were happy to volunteer as a neighborhood organization and help contribute to the 36th Annual SOWEBO FEST as a Sponsor. Thanks to all Board Members and volunteers and docents who helped man the beer truck !

A huge THANK YOU to all of our 2019 SoweboFest Sponsors! We could have not have done this without you! War Horse Cities Southwest Partnership Zella's Pizzeria RE SalonSpa RavenBeer Irish Railroad Workers Museum WORK Printing and Graphics SCRAP B-More The Beatnik Barbershop New Beginnings Barbershop Luvs Art Project Black Cherry Puppet Theater American Visionary Art Museum UMB Community Engagement Center UMBC

Our Museum is a place of remembrance for many, and a repository for some who place objects or photographs in remembrance...
05/25/2019

Our Museum is a place of remembrance for many, and a repository for some who place objects or photographs in remembrance of a loved one. Our 3rd floor Irish pub has framed images that reflect what were typical conversation points for Irish men who socialized after business hours at a local bar. One photograph is of Shane McShane, a B & O clerk and native of County Cavan. He was a fluent Gaelic speaker and a leader of Baltimore's "Pro Rising" community. McShane was a well written man, and expressed his views on the situation in Ireland on the editorial pages of the Baltimore Sun. He and wife Marie lived in several modest homes, and Shane was a capable Irish musician that performed in the Irish parishes of the day. He was a personal friend of Patrick Pearse and Joseph Plunkett, and was a colleague of Joseph H. Plunkett, who also worked for the B & O Railroad. He and Marie left 21 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, and were buried in West Baltimore's New Cathedral Cemetery.

Are you considering joining us for our Family History Workshop on Saturday, June 8th? Our team has done it themselves, a...
05/20/2019

Are you considering joining us for our Family History Workshop on Saturday, June 8th? Our team has done it themselves, and know what questions to ask.....to help you find the answers. Here's just a few "brick walls" people have broken through, with our help:

1. Grandpa was a railroader, but which one did he work for?
2. Which county did my Irish ancestor live....and what townland?
3. What did Grandma wear on her wedding day(really)?
4. Where were my ancestors baptised, and when?
5. How do I find out where my ancestors lived?
6. What kind of work did the family members do in the old days?
7. Where are they buried...and what does that tell us?
8. Is it true that great uncle Joe was a scrapper, and had a few run-ins with the law?
9. Family lore says that my ancestor fought the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.....is this true?
10. Where was the family bar located, and how long did they run it?

These kinds of questions have all been answered by us for our appreciative guests....how about you? Send us an email at [email protected] for all the details....our appointments last 1 1/2 hours, and your story is our focus.

Our Family History Workshop Crew....we are waiting for you!
05/20/2019

Our Family History Workshop Crew....we are waiting for you!

It's been a wonderful weekend for our little Museum. Our Board of Directors had the vision to participate in the world-w...
05/19/2019

It's been a wonderful weekend for our little Museum. Our Board of Directors had the vision to participate in the world-wide "Great Hunger Remembrance" on Saturday, and they welcomed the community to join them at a thoughtful, tender event. Board Member Cecilia Wright told the story of Irish orphans to a gathering of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians today. They arrived at Baltimore's Lazaretto Point in 1847, and the city responded magnificently. Thanks to all who reached out to the community during these memorable last few days!

Our Great Hunger Remembrance was moving, and important. Many hearts were touched as we reflected on the Bad Times that o...
05/18/2019

Our Great Hunger Remembrance was moving, and important. Many hearts were touched as we reflected on the Bad Times that our ancestors endured, or succumbed to. Special thanks to each who presented, including musicians and speakers who carry those once loved, and lost, in their very soul.

We continue preparing our minds and hearts for our Great Hunger Remembrance this Saturday, 5/18. The tradition was begun...
05/16/2019

We continue preparing our minds and hearts for our Great Hunger Remembrance this Saturday, 5/18. The tradition was begun by our Board of Directors, part of the greater Irish diaspora who commemorate some one million of our ancestors who lost their lives in tumult and tragedy. Perhaps you will be joining us; consider coming a few minutes early to contemplate the losses in County Clare. Our display of images from their Memorial of the bad times will prepare us for the verbal session in our Memorial Garden. The formal program begins at 11:30, with doors opening at 11:00.

Workhouse at Clifden, County Galway.
05/16/2019

Workhouse at Clifden, County Galway.

Our view of Baltimore's historic churches is innocuous enough....places of gathering and worship, we trust. Not so much ...
05/15/2019

Our view of Baltimore's historic churches is innocuous enough....places of gathering and worship, we trust. Not so much in the days of the 1840's, when placing a new Catholic Church in the major cities of the East Coast of America was viewed as an affront to the nativists that wielded considerable power in civic affairs. Archbishop John Hughes, a firebrand of sorts, heard of Irish Catholic churches, a convent, an open-air Irish market, and the Hibernia Hose Company burning to the ground in Philadelphia during May 6-7, 1844. He wasn't going to have such evil acts replicated in Manhattan. His immense presence spoke loudly there, and in Baltimore as well when he, accompanied by many other bishops, dedicated Baltimore's St. Peter the Apostle Church on September 22, 1844. It was the first Catholic Church established in West Baltimore. An attempt was made to burn it as well, but parishioners, loaded for bear, pursuaded a gang of nativists to "go home to mother". Good advice, that.

We had a nice, cozy group of 20 for our presentation on St. Peter's parish today, including a few representatives of the...
05/11/2019

We had a nice, cozy group of 20 for our presentation on St. Peter's parish today, including a few representatives of the Knott family. Pictures and stories were shared by many, including ten first-timers at the Museum. We especially liked the stories of priests and nuns who persuaded the "listless, lawless" Irish children towards a better demeanor.....hey, some even made it to graduation day!

Address

918-920 Lemmon St
Baltimore, MD
21223

Opening Hours

Friday 11:00 - 15:00
Saturday 11:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(410) 347-4747

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