A dedication of a headstone for Annie will take place at Calvary Cemetery in Queens on Saturday, October 11, Annie’s great-granddaughter, Julia Devous, told the Echo.
And all are invited to attend in a belated salute to the life of arguably the most famous figure in the story of immigration to America, said Devous, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
“We are planning a special event to properly honor Annie as both a simple, humble woman of Irish heritage from the Lower East Side, and as an Irish American historic icon,” Devous, who is spokesperson for the Annie Moore Memorial Project, said.
“We understand that Annie holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Irish American immigrants and their families here in America and Ireland. There has been such interest in Annie and the discovery of the real story of her life as a New Yorker that we expect this event to be fairly high profile and well attended by the public, especially the New York Irish community,” Devous said. “All are welcome to join the family and project supporters. We hope to honor Annie as well as celebrate her place in history with this special dedication ceremony.”
Commissioner of Records for New York City, Brian Andersson, whose genealogical detective work helped uncover the true life story of Annie, and Ireland’s Consul General in New York, Niall Burgess, will be taking part in the dedication.
“The steering committee has also extended invitations to genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who unveiled the Annie Moore mystery in September 2006, and to Cardinal Edward Egan, or a representative of the Archdiocese of New York, to preside over the ceremony,” said Devous.
“We plan to incorporate both cultural and liturgical aspects into the dedication, which we think are both fitting and appropriate to the occasion,” Devous added.
The headstone that will mark Annie Moore’s grave, and that of five of her children, is being carved from Irish Blue Limestone. It’s currently being finished in County Clare by master carver Francis McCormack of Irish Natural Stone and will be imported by the company’s Boston affiliate.
Cardinal Egan has granted a special waiver for the use of imported Irish stone for the monument in Calvary Cemetery.
The monument, according to Devous, is a “simple but elegant Celtic cross” with elements that represent both Annie’s Irish and American heritage, and her connection to the Ellis Island story.
Funding for the Annie Moore Memorial Project monument and dedication has been raised through a national and international effort organized by the Phoenix-based Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation.
Launched on St. Patrick’s Day 2007, the project, said Devous, met and surpassed its goal earlier this year with major support coming from Phoenix, New York City and Ireland through the “Ante Up for Annie” campaign.
Arizona philanthropists Norman McClelland, who is chairman of Shamrock Foods, and Bill O’Brien, president of Wm. Howard O’Brien Companies, provided lead gifts of $5,000 each. New York’s nonprofit The Kelly Gang, Inc., named the project as a beneficiary of its annual St. Patrick’s Day benefit with a gift of $15,000, and New York business owner Tommy Ryan, who owns Annie Moore’s Pub and Restaurant in midtown Manhattan, made the initial $1,000 project gift.
Ireland’s Cobh Heritage Center in Cork, which includes a bronze statue of Cork-native Annie, and an anonymous Irish donor, each made $1,000 contributions, while Ireland/America’s Irish Natural Stone provided an in-kind gift of $2,000.
In addition, said Devous, the project received an unexpected grant of $5,000 from the government of Ireland, this with the support of consuls general Emer Deane in San Francisco, and Niall Burgess in New York.
“The support from around the country and Ireland has really been amazing. We are so touched by the generosity of all of our donors, and a so grateful,” said Devous.
Annie Moore made history on January 1, 1892 when she became the first recorded arrival at Ellis Island in New York Harbor. A statue of the teenage immigrant now records the event at the Ellis Island Museum.
For years it was thought that Annie had moved west from New York but two years ago it was revealed that she had never in fact left the city and was resting in the unmarked grave in Calvary, this despite her fame and the statues depicting her on both sides of the Atlantic.