Top ten Irish historical sites in New York City
You won't be short of fascinating historical sites when visiting the Big Apple
5. The American Irish Historical Society
In 1940, the Society moved to a Beaux-Arts townhouse on Fifth Avenue, which it still occupies The society’s 50 founding members included Theodore Roosevelt, who was part-Irish (on his mother’s side) and the society’s formal purpose is: “to place permanently on record the story of the Irish in America from the earliest settlement to the present day, justly, impartially, fully, and sympathetically correcting neglect and misrepresentation by certain historians of the part taken in the founding, upbuilding and safeguarding of the Nation by persons of Irish birth and descent.”
The Society hosts cultural and historical events, publishes a journal entitled The Recorder, and annually awards a Gold Medal to an Irish-American or Irish-national of significant accomplishment.
6. Ground Zero
The first recorded casualty of the September 11 attacks was Father Mychal Judge, the beloved Irish American priest who was a beacon in New York’s Irish community. But the heroics of firefighters, police officers and emergency workers will also be remembered alongside office workers and plane passengers who displayed unfathomable courage.
Many who died were leaders in their chosen professions: success stories of the Irish diaspora built on the many sacrifices of their forebears. A visit to this site may not be a wrenching experience, but it will also make you take fierce pride in your ancestry.
7. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
Said to have been built with the pennies of poor Irish immigrants, the magnificent neo-gothic structure of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral seems to divide Fifth Avenue in two and was then – and is still now – a mission statement of the Irish presence in the Big Apple. It’s also a terrific example of Gotham architecture, drawing in thousands of visitors every day.
The land on which the present cathedral sits was originally purchased for $11,000 on March 6, 1810, as a site for a school for young Roman Catholic men, the New York Literary Institution, to be conducted by the Jesuits. The cathedral was completed in 1878 and dedicated on May 25, 1879.
8. Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Construction on Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in lower Manhattan began in 1809 and by 1844 Archbishop John Hughes (known as Dagger John for his habit of inscribing a cross before his signature) had to call upon the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s to guard it against anti-Catholic bigots who threatened to burn it down.
In 1966, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was one of the first sites to be named a New York City landmark by the New York City Landmarks Commission. It remains a vital and historical part of the tale of the Irish in New York.