The Irish Heritage Trail in Boston by Eric Wilbur

Learn About Boston’s Rich Irish History Along These 20 Stops

Source: http://boston.about.com/od/history/a/The-Irish-Heritage-Trail-In-Boston.htm  By , About.com Guide

The Freedom Trail1 may be the most popular and toured historical attraction in Boston2, but Irish history also comes to life in the city’s streets through the Irish Heritage Trail, a 20-stop journey that explores the important Irish figures and dates that help define the town. The trail was designated by the Boston Irish Tourism Association3 and covers more than three miles. While Boston is the focus, the self-guided trail also includes 50 other sites throughout the state. It was designed with the encouragement to cherish the care of these historical landmarks, many of which, according to the BITA need restoration. It’s also a popular attraction around St. Patrick’s Day4.Here are the stops along the Boston portion of the trail, which travels through the downtown and Back Bay5 areas.

1. Rose Kennedy Garden – Christopher Columbus Park along Rose F. Kennedy Greenway The garden pays tribute to Boston’s most famous political family.

2. Kevin White Statue – Fanueil Hall along Congress St. White was Boston’s 45th mayor, serving from 1968-83. He passed away in early 2012.

3. James Michael Curley Statues – Union St. at Congress St. “The Rascal King,” Curley was a famous, local politician.

4. Boston City Hall – Congress St. at Government Center Hugh O’Brien became Boston’s first Irish mayor in 1885.

5. Boston Irish Famine Memorial – School St. and Washington St. A tribute to the more than 100,000 who fled starvation in Ireland for America.

6. Old Granary Burying Grounds – Tremont St. Established in 1660, the Granary is the burial site of many of Boston’s earliest settlers.

7. Colonel Shaw Memorial – Beacon Hill at Park St. The memorial took 14 years to build, and depicts the state’s 54th Black Infantry Regiment which fought in the Civil War.

8. Massachusetts State House – Beacon Hill at Park St. The State House was designed by Charles Bullfinch, built in 1798.

9. Soldiers & Sailors Memorial – Flagstaff Hill on Boston Common Dedicated to Bostonians who died during the Civil War.

10. Commodore John Barry Memorial – Boston Common along Tremont St. Barry was a naval hero during the Revolutionary War.

11. Boston Massacre Memorial – Boston Common along Tremont St. A tribute to the five Boston Massacre victims in 1770.

12. Central Burying Grounds – Boston Common along Boylston St. Established in 1756, a number of unknown Irish Catholics and Freemasons are buried here.

13. Colonel Thomas Cass Statue – Public Garden along Boylston St. Cass was a significant figure during the Civil War.

14. David I. Walsh Statue – Charles River Esplanade at the Hatch Shell Walsh was the first Irish-Catholic to be elected governor of the Commonwealth.

15. Maurice Tobin Statue – Charles River Esplanade at the Hatch Shell Maurice Tobin was the youngest state representative at the age of 25.

16. Patrick Collins Memorial – Commonwealth Ave. between Clarendon and Darmouth Streets Collins was Boston’s second Irish-born mayor, elected in 1885.

17. John S, Copley Statue – Copley Square Park at Boylston and Dartmouth Streets In the square named after him, Copley was considered one of America’s greatest portrait artists

18. Boston Public Library – Boylston St. at Dartmouth St. America’s oldest library boasts an Irish collection with more than 13,000 items.

19. John Boyle O’Reilly Memorial – Boylston St. and The Fens Arriving in Boston in 1870, O’Reilly was an outspoken supporter of the less fortunate in the city.

20. Fenway Park – Yawkey Way at Brookline Ave. The home of the Boston Red Sox, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012, was built by Irish immigrant Charles E. Logue

For more information on the Irish Heritage trail, including a map of all locations, visit www.irishheritagetrail.com/boston6.

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Categories: History, Irish Heritage Trail in Boston | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holy Land U.S.A. – Waterbury, Connecticut

The creation of John Baptist Greco, situated on Pine Hill in Waterbury, Connecticut, Holy Land U.S.A. was a place for education of the Bible and the life of Christ. It was not a shrine or a place of worship. It was dedicated in 1958 as “Bethlehem Village” and later became Holy Land U.S.A. The vision of a local Waterbury lawyer named John Greco and built with the help of Waterbury Italian volunteers, Holy Land was a tourist destination for years, sometimes drawing 44,000 visitors per year.

I lived in Connecticut for most of my first 33 years, and when I was young, in the 1970′s, my father brought me to Holy Land U.S.A. I have some VERY vague memories of Holy Land, just mainly just an image of it being on a hill (quite a climb for a youngster!), and the miniature buildings. But the best memory is just being with my father and having him share Bible stories with me as I explored the tiny buildings.

The park was open until 1984, two years prior to John Greco’s death. It had been declining in the years prior to his death, and afterward quickly spiraled downhill, the victim of neglect, weather, and vandals. Despite numerous efforts to raise funds to restore Holy Land, none have been successful. Sadly, Holy Land U.S.A. is currently in a very bad state of disrepair and the area surrounding it is pretty bad. I thought about it recently (now that I live in the Midwest) and realized I had not given Holy Land U.S.A. a second thought at all while I lived there, despite having been by there a thousand times. During a trip back to Connecticut in 2005, I thought I’d go to see it after all these years, and see if I could take some photos.

However, what was really exciting, was when I returned to Indiana – what I was to find in the huge box of slides my mom brought back from Connecticut during her trip about a month before mine. The slides were taken by her uncle, Donald Lucian, back in the 50′s and 60′s, and among them were some photos of Holy Land U.S.A. when it was new, and some during its construction! I hadn’t found ANY photos on the Internet of Holy Land U.S.A. back in its heyday, so I added scans of the slides for your enjoyment…it is nice to see Holy Land U.S.A. depicted as it was new, not as decrepit ruins.

In 2006, I again returned to visit and take more photos. I thought that Holy Land might make a good subject for AMERICAN ROAD Magazine, dedicated to America’s two lane roads and US highways. Thomas Repp, owner / editor, agreed and gave me the go-ahead to proceed with my first feature article. That article was published in AMERICAN ROAD’s Autumn 2008 issue. Click here for a link to the article.

In 2008, the 56-foot tall illuminated Peace Cross was replaced with a new stainless steel cross (perhaps harkening back to the original Cross?). I headed back to Connecticut at the end of August 2008 and visited Holy Land again, and added a photo of the new cross.

UPDATE – AUGUST 2011: Holy Land USA is currently for sale. Click here for a story by Connecticut news station WFSB (with video).

I also have some postcards of Holy Land, courtesy of Ron Guerrera of Mattatuck Antiques & Collectibles in Waterbury. Ron was kind enough to allow me to photograph the postcards (I didn’t bring a scanner with me on the trip!).

Here are a few photos of Holy Land U.S.A. “Now and Then.” For more photos, click the link to my Flickr site at the bottom of this post.

The entrance to Holy Land (postcard)

Holy Land Postcard - Entrance

Holy Land - Entrance

Crèche (postcard)

Postcard of Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Herod’s Palace (Slide taken by my great-uncle Don)

Herod's Palace - Holy Land U.S.A., Waterbury, Connecticut

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Herod's Palace - Holy Land U.S.A., Waterbury, Connecticut

“There came wise men from the East” – in the background, you can see Waterbury and the old Scovill factory. (Slide taken by my great-uncle Don)

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

In this photo, you cannot see through all the overgrowth.

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Replica of Calvary (postcard)

Postcard of Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

The original “Peace Cross” atop Pine Hill – 1958 – 1968 (Slides taken by my great-uncle Don)

Original Peace Cross on Pine Hill (1956) - Waterbury, CT

Original Peace Cross on Pine Hill (1956) - Waterbury, CT

The 2nd Cross, which stood from 1968 – 2008

Cross on Pine Hill - Waterbury, Connecticut

Cross on Pine Hill - Waterbury, Connecticut

The 3rd Cross – 2008

New Cross - Holy Land U.S.A. - Waterbury, Connecticut

For many more photos and postcards of Holy Land U.S.A., click here to visit my Flickr site: Holy Land U.S.A. – Waterbury, Connecticut

Also, here are some links to other sites or photo galleries about Holy Land U.S.A.

Here are a couple of videos from You Tube about Holy Land

Source: roadtripmemories.com – by Jennifer in ,

Categories: CT, History, Roadside Attractions | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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