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Irish American sisters return Famine heirloom silver to Cork

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After traveling to London in April watch the royal wedding, three sisters from Erie continued their trip on to Ireland to present a silver tea service to the citizens of Dunmanway.

The women, Kathleen Whipple, Lucinda Maurer and Susan Morse had decided to take the family heirloom back to its place of origin. Since they were children, the sisters had heard the Irish story from their mother and grandmother, reported a column at GoErie.com.

In 1846 in County Cork, a silver tea service was given to two sisters, Martha and Katherine Cox, by the Rev. James Doheny on behalf of the tenants of the Cox estate in Dunmanway. The sister had significantly slashed the rents for their tenants in an attempt to alleviate the effects of the famine in 1845.

The same year they were presented with the gift, the Cox sisters, both young and single at the time, moved to America with their widowed mother and they brought the service with them. The Irish silver was handed down through the generations in America.

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"We are very proud of our heritage," Maurer said.

It was Morse, the youngest sister and the family genealogist, who decided to take the silver back to County Cork. Their eldest sister, Eleanor Balinsky, who has made countless trips to England, regretfully, was unable to join them on their pilgrimage.

The silver collection was presented at a ceremony at the Famine Memorial Chapel at St. Anthony's Hospital to the chairman of the Dunmanway Historical Society, Tommy Collins.

The pieces went on display last month at Dunmanway Heritage Centre.
 

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