Monday, March 14, 2011

Sentimental Sunday (on Monday): A Walking Tour of the Acre

Continuing in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day and Lowell's Irish Cultural Week,  this week, for Sentimental Sunday, I have chosen to share a few photographs I took the other day while on a walk through Lowell's Acre neighborhood. Hosted by David McKean, David is the local Historian/Archivist for St. Patrick's Church, which is located in the Acre.

Our first stop along the way was at "The Worker" sculpture. Located at the corner of Shattuck and Market Streets, this sculpture was created in 1985, by brothers Ivan and Elliot Schwartz. Also known as the Hugh Cummiskey sculpture, Hugh Cummiskey was an Irish immigrant born in county Tyrone. He came to this place, which was to be Lowell, from Charlestown, Massachusetts by invitation from Kirk Boot. In 1822, Hugh, with his gang of 30 Irish laborers, walked all the way here to help widen the canal system.

In an "Irish Catholic Genesis of Lowell" by George F. O'Dwyer, it is written that Hugh Cummiskey died in the Acre, at his home on Adams Street on 12 Dec., 1871. It also goes on to say that there was a write up about Hugh's life published in the "Courier" on 14 Dec., 1871. I have searched the Dec., 1871 (4 pages available at edition of the "Courier' and have yet to find it, but it is quoted in an Irish Catholic Genesis of Lowell, so you can read it there..

During the walk we stopped at Cummiskey Alley. Named after Hugh, I am assuming, here's a listing of those who lived at Cummiskey Alley in 1859.
Mrs. Margaret Delmore, widow, house 5 Cummiskey's alley
Mrs. Catharine Flynn,., house 5 Cummiskey's alley
Timothy Holland, laborer, house 3 Cummiskey's alley
Catharine Mahar, house 4 Cummiskey's alley
William Moran, laborer, house 2 Cummiskey's alley
James Reynolds, (Cal.), house 1 Cummiskey's alley
Michael Roach, laborer, house 1 Cummiskey's alley
Francis Rourke, Boott, house 4 Cummiskey's alley

While in the parking lot next to Cummiskey Alley we were standing alongside an old building, which, thanks to Google and Brian, I found out used to house The Cosmopolitian Cafe.  David didn't come right out and tell us what this building once was, all he said is that it was a bar at one time. So when I got home, I asked my "nice Acre boy", Brian. "The Cosmo" (as he called it), used to be a pretty rough place at one time. He compared it to the bar in the movie Star Wars. He said if you wanted to get into a fight, "The Cosmo" was the place to go. Ha ha... Also, I guess... this is the place where Micky Ward got his hands smashed by the cops back in the 80s. Anyway, according Mr. McKean, this building, with it's granite sills and lintels, is representative of the some of the buildings that were present in the "Irish Acre."

On to St. Patrick's Church, this is the church  where my maternal grandmother, Rita Maille nee Moran, was married in 1940. Actually, she was married at the rectory. She also attended St. Patrick's School for Girls. On May 27th, 1940 an article appeared in the Lowell Sun detailing her wedding. It reads:
Lowell-- A pretty marriage was solemnized yesterday afternoon at St. Patrick's parish rectory by Rev. Edwin F. Carney, assistant pastor, when Miss Rita Moran, daughter of Mr and Mrs. Peter Farley [sic], 2 Dutton street, and Mr. Paul Maille, son of Mr. and Mrs. Cuthbert Maille, Wheeler road, Dracut, were united in  marriage in the presence of many friends and relatives. Miss Irene Moran, sister of the bride, and Mr. Emile Maille, brother of the bride-groom, were the attendants.
The bride was attired in a gown of white silk taffeta Queen Anne style, with matching accessories. She wore an illusion veil and carried a Bouquet of white bridal roses, sweet peas and lilies of the valley. Her attendant was attired in pink taffeta with blue accessories and carried an old fashioned bouquet.
After the ceremony, a wedding dinner was served at the home of the bride's parents with Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Simoneau, uncle and aunt of the bride, serving as hosts. A reception followed after which Mr. and Mrs. Maille left for a visit to the World's fair. On returning, they will reside in Hudson, N. H., where Mr. Maille holds and important position with the nationally known Jasper Poultry Farms.


  1. Very nice report Michelle. I've only been in St. Patrick's once, when I believe Mr. McKean gave a talk on Father John O'Brien / Father John's Medicine there. I remember "The Cosmo" too, but never went in.

  2. Anonymous1:55 PM

    Thanks for the St Patrick's Day tour, and it was nice to learn about some of your local history :-) Jo