Back To Life
On St. Patrick’s Day weekend, a fundraising event will benefit a local abandoned Irish Catholic cemetery.
The St. Mary’s Cemetery Restoration Committee is hosting the second annual fundraising event at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Horseshoe Inn in Onoville.
The committee is focused on restoring the St. Mary’s Cemetery, located in Guernsey Hollow, to its former glory.
“The cemetery has been abandoned and desecrated, but we’re well on our way to fixing it,” said Don Dove, program chairperson. “There is excitement in the South Valley area about the project. We’re trying to make it beautiful.”
Restoration began a few years ago and has been met with minor setbacks.
According to Gary Olson, committee chairman, a contemplative garden was vandalized this past summer and several benches were stolen within two weeks of installation.
Dove said that the committee is currently involved in negotiations with the Department of Environmental Conservation to determine the exact property lines in hopes of expanding the committee’s land – the cemetery is landlocked by DEC land. In the 1920s, when area residents began moving to find other work, the government purchased property in the Guernsey Hollow area, according to Dove.
St. Mary’s Cemetery dates back to the early 1800s. In 1867, a church was built at the location for Irish families in the area.
The committee is currently researching the history behind multiple Civil War soldiers buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Peter Murphy, a local tradesman known to deal with early settlers and Native Americans, is reportedly buried in the cemetery.
The event will feature a Chinese auction and corned beef and cabbage.
According to Dove, committee members have donated hundreds of dollars worth of Irish sterling silver and fine china for the auction, including 15 pieces of fine china and 20 pieces of Irish sterling silver that will be auctioned in individual baskets. Each basket will be worth around $25. Last year, the committee auctioned off nearly 35 baskets.
The Horseshoe Inn will also auction an 18-inch roofed bird feeder to benefit the fundraising efforts, according to Dove.
“For the first time, we will also auction off an Irish blackthorn walking stick. There will be fun, fellowship and good Irish food,” Dove said.
Last year, the event raised $1,200. This year, Dove hopes the event will bring in $1,500.
For information about the restoration committee, contact Olson at 763-6105.