Links to emigration
The Gathering of Stones monument is dedicated to the Irish people both home and abroad. The central tower represents the 5th province of Ireland. This being the Irish Diaspora.
The monument has a number of links to emigration and the Irish Diaspora
A number of historically significant stones have made long journeys over land and sea to be incorporated into the monument.
The 'Emigrant stones' from Battery Park in New York.
The most poignant of all are the four 'Emigrant stones' from Battery Park, New York, site of the first Immigration Centre in the world. Hundreds of Irishmen were involved in the laying of these stones along the docks, many of whom lost their lives doing so. Millions of emigrants, including those who who left Ireland in the years before, during and after The Famine, crossed these stones whilst being processed through the Immigration Centre.
These stones had a long journey, starting back in the early 1800's when they were quarried in various parts of New England, They were later installed at Battery Park, Manhatten which dates back to the 1700's. Here they lay on the river's edge until their removal by RJW Campbell during the reconstruction of Battery Park in 2001.
When the president of RJW Campbell, Bobby Watt heard about the event, he immediately offered these stones to the project. Inspired by the events, Bobby wrote a song called 'Whispering Stones' which tells the story of the 'Emigrant Stones' and of the symbolic bringing home of the footsteps of all the people who stepped over these stones to start their new lives, many of whom would never return home again.
Getting the huge blocks of stone back to Ireland was a feat in itself. They journeyed first from RJW Campbell's yard in Ottawa, Canada to the port in Quebec, from where, with kind sponsorship from IIrish Shipping & Transport Ltd., they were shipped across the Atlantic. Their journey followed a similar route to the famous and historic Dunbrody cargo ship that ferried thousands of emigrants during the famine years from New Ross in County Wexford to North America via Quebec.
Twinning of The Gathering of Stones with the Dunbrody Famine Ship and The Emigrant Flame in New Ross, County Wexford.
We were delighted to announced at the opening of The Gathering of Stones that our monument has been twinned with the Dunbrody Famine Ship and The Emigrant Flame in New Ross, Co. Wexford.
The original Dunbrody was built in 1845 in Quebec. She was commissioned along with 7 sister ships by ‘William Graves & Son’, a merchant family from New Ross. She was built by the expert shipwright Thomas Hamilton Oliver, an Irish emigrant from Co. Derry. The building of the ship took only six months and was supervised by her first master Captain John Baldwin, who captained her from 1845 to March 1848.
Designed as a cargo vessel the Dunbrody’s main cargos where timber from Canada, cotton from the southern states of the U.S.A. and guano from Peru. In 1845, the very year of her launch, famine struck Ireland. With the potato crop failing and food prices soaring, widespread starvation would soon force more than a million people to flee the country. So many people left, that there were not enough passenger ships to carry them all. Entrepreneurial merchants, like the Graves’, took the opportunity to fit out their cargo vessels with bunks to meet the extra demand. Between 1846 and 1851 the Dunbrody carried thousands of emigrants to North America. Lax regulation allowed a ship the size of the Dunbrody to carry anywhere from 160 passengers to over 300. In 1847 she is recorded as carrying 313 passengers to Quebec.
The site of the Dunbrody replica in New Ross is also the site of The Emigrant Flame
The Emigrant Flame was lit from the eternal flame at the graveside of John F Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, USA. Read more about these sites here.
Stones from the Dublin Docklands.
The 16 large blocks of Dublin granite, placed as seating inside the walls of the monument, have been salvaged and donated from a building site at Hanover Quay in the Dublin Docklands. These stones were once the foundation stones of an ice and cold storage warehouse dating back to 1865. The storage units were built to accommodate the contents of the many trawling ships docking at Hanover Quay during this time.
The docks in Dublin are historically significant to Irish emigration. One of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the 'Perserverance' which sailed from just across the river at Custom House Quay on St. Patrick's Day 1846. Captain William Scott, who was a native of the Shetland Isles and a veteran of trans- Atlantic crossings, gave up his office job in New Brunswick to captain the
'Perserverance' out of Dublin Port. He was 74 years old at the time.
. The Steerage fare on the ship was £3 and 210 passengers made the historical journey. They landed in New York on the 18th May 1846. All passengers and crew survived the journey.
The Breakwater Quarry Stone (Holyhead, Wales)
Holyhead is the main port in North Wales and provides a direct link with Dublin via the Stena Line and Irish Ferries.
At 1.7 miles in length, Holyhead breakwater is the longest in the UK. Started in 1845, it took 28 years to complete and consumed over 7 million tonnes of stone quarried from nearby Holyhead Mountain. These quarries now form part of Breakwater Country Park.
The last blasted rockfall remains alongside one quarry face and a stone from this has been
donated to the gathering of Stones by Breakwater Country Park/Isle of Anglesey County Council with the permission of RSPB and NRW.
The donated stone now sits in the centre of the Munster wall at ground level.