CENTER FOR LOWELL HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL LIBRARIES

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FROM ERIN TO THE ACRE
 

hopes of gaining employment in the mills.  The Irish
began forming their own community, not in the city proper where the corporations' boarding houses dotted the community in neat rows, but on the opposite side of the Western Canal, the Paddy Camps.

     There they began building shacks of whatever wood was available.  Some had chimneys or a hole in the roof to allow smoke to exit.  Sometimes sod was gathered to dose up holes.  Glass was replaced with oil cloth.  Streets were formed in a make-shift pattern with families gathering in units resembling family districts back home in Ireland.  There were names like Cork and Dublin Streets.  Some males brought their families and by 1827, there were over 200 people in the makeshift town.  Relations within the community often flared up based on rivalries brought over from Ireland.  In 1831, during the building of the city's first Catholic Church, St. Patrick's, a riot ensued that pitted Irish against Yankee.

As their numbers grew, the Irish began opening their own shops, fraternal, and social organizations.  Schools were established, as well as societies for the relief of the poor.  Early on, Irish women were employed in the mills.. Employment for the men generally encompassed trades within the Irish community.  But nothing could have prepared the community for the increase in immigration following Ireland's Potato Famine.  Large numbers of Irish left their country to escape starvation.  The lure of the mills and the possibility of connecting with families already established here brought many to Lowell.

Irish Leadership

Two leaders that helped build and support the
community were Hugh Cummiskey and Father John
O'Brien.  Cummiskey was not only a labor leader, but

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