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UMass Lowell, Irish University Team for Archaeological Dig

Team Continues Search for Lowell’s Irish Roots on Both Sides of Atlantic


Media contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209,, and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944,

* M E D I A  A D V I S O R Y *

Tuesday, July 17 through Friday, July 20

WHAT:   UMass Lowell students will team up with archaeologists from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland to resume the dig for Irish history in Lowell. 

The group will dig on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Church, once the site of an encampment by the city’s first wave of Irish immigrants. Those early settlers came to Lowell in the 1800s to build the city’s network of canals.

This is the third annual dig conducted by UMass Lowell students under the tutelage of representatives of the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University in partnership with UMass Lowell’s Center for Irish Partnerships. So far, the digs have uncovered hundreds of artifacts from life in the encampment at St. Patrick’s in the 19th century, including rosary beads, clay pipes, iron nails and marbles, as well as the remains of a shanty believed to have been home to the parish priest during the same time period.

Students participating in the dig are from Chelmsford and Hudson, Mass., and Pelham, N.H.

The team will dig daily this week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Lowell. Their schedule includes: 
  • On Wednesday, July 18 at 6 p.m., a reception will be held at the Hurley Residence, 100 Belmont Ave., Lowell. The event is a benefit for the Irish-American Heritage Archaeological Program. Members of the public interested in attending should contact Victoria Denoon at for ticket information.
  • On Thursday, July 19, members of the dig team, including Prof. Colm Donnelly, archaeologist and director of the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University, and Prof. Frank Talty, co-director of the Center for Irish Partnerships at UMass Lowell, will be available for media interviews at the excavation site from 2 to 4 p.m. The team is also available for interviews at other times by appointment through UMass Lowell Public Affairs.
Next month, the team will travel to Northern Ireland to dig at the site of the former homestead of Hugh Cummiskey, who led the first group of Irish laborers on the 30-mile walk from Boston to Lowell. The group first dug at the site last summer to gain insight into Cummiskey’s life before he immigrated to the United States.

WHERE:  St. Patrick’s Church, 282 Suffolk St., Lowell