In the back of Leadville's Evergreen Cemetery a pauper section called the Catholic Free section, approximately two thousand people are buried, the vast majority of them Irish immigrants. Most of them were under the age of 18 at the time of death and the average age of those buried there is twenty two. For the past four years, the Colorado Irish community, in partnership with the Irish government, has been raising funds to build a memorial that will carry the names of 1339 of those buried there.
This project is about honoring the lives of Leadville's 19th century Irish community, many of them Famine orphans - desperate, illiterate, unskilled, and transient - who drifted west upon arrival in North America, following stories of opportunity and wealth in the Colorado mountains. The memorial, however, reaches way beyond the story of Leadville, offering a visual and visceral reminder to Irish America of the poverty and desperation that the survivors of the famine brought to North America.
Dr. James Walsh, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver, gives this talk.