Western Cemetery

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  • Dorothy
  • James Neal
  • Western Cemetary
  • Gothic Revival House

Western Cemetery

Vaughan and Bowdoin Streets

A memorial to the Irish Famine of the 1840s and to the graves, in some cases unmarked, of Irish immigrants who died in Portland in the nineteenth century, stands in a little pine grove at the back of the cemetery. Irish women (and men) were buried there before there was a Catholic cemetery in the area; their graves were long neglected. A group of local Irish Americans funded and dedicated this monument in 1999. The female figure of famine engraved in it reflects a tragic image of women, linked to their starving children, and also the gendered image of "Mother Ireland." Many of the surviving stones show the married women's maiden names as well as the counties in Ireland from which they immigrated. A walk through the Western Cemetery reveals many family stories and the tradition of denoting a woman as "the wife of" instead of as an individual. Rachel Neal, who conducted a school for girls in the nineteenth century, and her twin children, Rachel and John Neal (a prominent woman suffragist), are buried here (see also site S10 and site C10).

After turning onto Spring Street, note the Gothic-Revival style house on the left at 387 Spring Street. The house was destined for demolition to make way for a new Holiday Inn on Spring Street before Mary Brewer Nash Flagg rescued the house and had it moved to a vacant lot next door to her home at 383 Spring Street.