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Calvary virtual tour for May 4

Calvary Cemetery, March 2015. [Photo by Peter McDermott]

Irish Echo columnist Geoffrey Cobb is leading a virtual tour of Irish history and art at New York’s Calvary Cemetery on Tuesday, May 4 at 6 p.m. The event is free and anyone interested can book a place here or by emailing

Calvary is the largest cemetery in North America, its three million or so interred citizens outnumber the living population of Queens. A place of great natural beauty, Calvary also contains striking Irish art.

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Calvary was consecrated by the Tyrone-born Archbishop “Dagger John” Hughes in August 1848 and by 1852 there were 50 burials a day, half of them poor Irish children under 7 years of age, victims of the noxious conditions in the disease-ridden, teeming Manhattan slums. “I have just written a book ‘The Irish in New York’ and I realized that many of the characters in it and hundreds of other famous Irish figures lie in Calvary’s ground,” Cobb said. “The Irish clawed their way to power and acceptance by taking over an infamous political machine called Tammany Hall and dozens of its most notorious members lie in Calvary’s earth as well as host of other Irish New Yorkers, including Annie Moore, the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island.

“Perhaps the most striking feature in the cemetery is the city park located completely inside Calvary, dedicated to the Civil War soldiers who defended the Union,” he said. “Irish sculptor Daniel Draddy from Cork created the park’s most stunning feature – amazing life sized statues of Civil War soldiers. There is also a Fenian Monument in Calvary, erected in 1907 to honor members of the Fenian Brotherhood buried there, one of whom is the great Tipperary Fenian leader and Civil War veteran Michael Doheny. There is also and a monument also honors the legendary Civil War New York Irish regiment, the Fighting 69th, whose leader Thomas Meagher, is also profiled in my book.”