Naming the Unnamed: The Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial

 08/27/2023 | 06:13 PM 

Irish Network Colorado will remember over 1,300 immigrants buried in unmarked, sunken graves at the newly installed Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial  September 15-16, 2023 with the unveiling of the a bronze statue  and several events. Do you want to talk to someone or visit?

Most of the Irish immigrants who are buried at the Evergreen cemetery in Leadville came from the same town/area of Ireland. A copper mine in that area of Ireland closed, plus there was a famine so somehow a lot of Irish men heard about mining opportunities in Leadville and immigrated to Colorado.

While Coloradoans want to remember and learn about their Irish heritage, (Colorado has the largest population of Irish immigrants west of the Mississippi) the Irish descendants of these men, women and children who are buried in Colorado want to remember their lost loved ones.  Dignitaries including the Irish General Council, Mayor of the town the immigrants came from, etc. are coming to Colorado for this event. A life size bronze sculpture sits in the middle of the memorial and it is surrounded by a stone path that people can walk around and meditate at on benches. Created by Irish artist Terry Brennan and cast in bronze at Bronze Services of Loveland, the life-sized figure of a miner on bended knee sits facing toward Ireland and represents the immigrants, laborers, and children buried here.  The sculptor will also be here.

Irish Network Colorado (INCO) remembers over 1,300 immigrants buried in unmarked, sunken graves at the newly installed Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial on September 16, 2023. 

Please join us to honor these Irish Americans at the unveiling of the artfully landscaped and curated Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial in the Catholic-free (pauper) section of Evergreen Cemetery. Created by Irish artist Terry Brennan and cast in bronze at Bronze Services of Loveland, the life-sized figure of a miner on bended knee sits facing toward Ireland and represents the immigrants, laborers, and children buried here.

The memorial serves to name the unnamed who came to Leadville in search of a better life.  It also serves as a beacon to all immigrants struggling in lands that are not always welcoming. The roots of this project are based on the research of Project Historian James Walsh and the Rocky Mountain Irish Roots Collective (RMIRC), Leadville Historian Kathleen Fitzsimmons, and built in collaboration with the City of Leadville,

This unveiling adds panels around the miner’s plinth engraved with the names of those forgotten immigrants, Irish and more, who can now live on in the memory of those who visit the memorial. These men, women, and children were part of a proud, working-class Leadville community. About one-third of them hailed from the copper mining regions of West Cork, Ireland. As part of this memorialization, a Sister City relationship has been established between Leadville and Allihies in acknowledgement of the trans-Atlantic bonding this project has fostered.

The Irish government has generously provided more than $141,000 in funding to the project through the Emmigrant Support Programme. Additional support was provided by the Lake County Community Fund, private foundations such as the Heineman, and numerous individual donors. And finally, after multiple-phase construction costing over $300,000 the Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial has reach completion! Please join us to recognize this effort and honor the memory of these immigrants who came to Colorado in search of a better life, who died here trying to find it, and who deserve to not be forgotten.

Join us this September 15-16 in Leadville, Colorado for the Naming the Unnamed: The Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial Unveiling and companion events:

Friday, September 15th

5:00 pm – 6:30  pm

Leadville’s East Side Driving Tour with local experts Kathleen Fitzsimmons, Bill Harrington and Dennis Hasty is a geology and living history tour of Leadville’s historic mines. Those interested should meet at the Delaware Hotel lobby.  High clearance vehicles are recommended with limited carpooling available. Cost:  Free

6:30-8:00 pm

From Coffin Ships to Pauper Graves:  Yesterday’s Leadville Irish and Today’s Immigrant Community exhibit opening and reception at The Healy House & Dexter’s Cabin (912 Harrison Ave, Leadville, CO 80461). Sponsored by History Colorado, UCD Political Science Department & Rocky Mountain Irish Roots CollectiveCost:  Free

Saturday, September 16th

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Naming the Unnamed: the Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial Unveiling at Evergreen Cemetery

(1601 Poplar Street, Leadville, CO 80461). Memorial unveiling with remarks, music, and cemetery tours. Sponsored by Irish Network Colorado. Cost:  Free

The September Leadville St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade is a unique tradition honoring Leadville’s Irish heritage and celebrated on a day less likely to have snow! The parade starts at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, 9th and Harrison Avenue, Leadville, CO 80461. Cost:  Free

7:00 pm

From Cork to Colorado, a Musical Review at the Tabor Opera House (308 Harrison Ave, Leadville, CO 80461) will be a grand evening of storytelling and entertainment in Leadville’s historic Tabor Opera House. Cost:  $25 (cash bar)

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