850 Irish souls died on Deer Island in Boston Harbor in the quarantine station there during the Famine and were buried in a mass grave. On Saturday, they were all finally honored by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Mayor Marty Walsh, with several hundred in attendance.
The island was the first stop for many Irish fleeing to Boston during the Great Famine. The Deer Island Quarantine Hospital and Almshouse opened in 1847 to house the many Irish passengers sick with typhus, cholera, and other illnesses.
A 16-foot Celtic cross stone cross overlooking the harbor was dedicated as a memorial to the hundreds of Irish refugees interred on the island.
“Many of us here are descendants of those people that fled the hunger and the oppression of the 1800s to come to America," said Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spoke at the dedication. He recalled hearing stories of the famine from his family when he was a child.
“I heard those stories from my grandfather and my mother heard those stories, my father heard those stories and we’d hear those stories passed down through generations," Walsh said.