Irish heritage remains strong in Augusta

Monday, April 2, 2012 2:47 PM
Last updated Tuesday, April 3, 2012 12:04 PM
  • Follow Latest News

The rolling hills of Ireland are far away from Augusta, but the green island is close in the hearts of many here.

Back | Next
David Tribby (right) and Brian Mulherin attend an Ancient Order of Hibernians meeting at Sheehan's Restaurant. The local group has about 40 members.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
David Tribby (right) and Brian Mulherin attend an Ancient Order of Hibernians meeting at Sheehan's Restaurant. The local group has about 40 members.

Irish identity is something families hold tight, even for those who aren’t native.

There aren’t many brogues in Augusta or first generation Irish, but the community whose ancestors immigrated to the Southeast after the potato famine is strong today. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 7.7 percent of Richmond County to have Irish ancestry, and the community has two organizations that help people stay connected.

“We try to keep the Irish heritage here going,” said Brian Mulherin, a member of the Irish American Heritage Society of Augusta and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. “I think what it is, is so many of the Irish came over to this country destitute and they pulled themselves up by the boot straps, if you will. The Irish in this part of the country became quite proud.”

Augusta had an influx of Irish immigrants in the mid-1850s when people tried to escape the famine, Mulherin said. Many funneled through the port in Charleston, S.C., and moved to Augusta for work on the canal and railroads.

Beth Sheehan’s great grandfather Edward Sheehan was one of those immigrants who came to Augusta for a better life. He was born in County Cork and arrived in Augusta at age 15.

As he grew older, Sheehan started the Sheehan Excelsior Bottling Works on Broad Street, where he bottled beer, soft drinks and orange juice.

Beth Sheehan said it’s survival stories like her family’s that make people feel so connected to their roots.

“When you think about it, 160 years ago is not that far removed,” she said.

A part of the women’s chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, she said the 40 members give to local charities and say prayers with rosary beads to keep the spirit of their ancestors alive.

The more than 300 members of the Irish American Heritage Society hold meetings and host speakers, while preparing for the culminating event of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Earlier this month, the men’s chapter of AOH laid a wreath on the memorial stone of Dennis Cahill, an Irish-born city worker who drowned while trying to save a young girl who fell in the Augusta canal in 1902.

Immediate past president Jeff Ryan said it’s those gestures that help keep the Irish spirit in the Garden City.

“The Irish have gone through a lot of persecution and personal hardship over the years but they managed to sustain themselves,” Ryan said. “That has to do with the strong family background, religious beliefs but an awful lot is that we’ve endured so much and there’s pride that we’re still here. There’s still a lot of ethnic pride.”

THE SERIES

Each April the world comes to Augusta and often finds the world is already here. We take a look at nine cultures and the impact each one has on the Augusta area:

SATURDAY: British

SUNDAY: Chinese

MONDAY: French

TODAY: Irish

WEDNESDAY: Japanese

THURSDAY: Korean

FRIDAY: German

APRIL 7: Greek

APRIL 8: African

Comments (6) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
timberwolf3557
0
Points
timberwolf3557 04/02/12 - 02:34 pm
1
1
What about the impact of the

What about the impact of the Native American Culture???? WOW.... 1st here and the first to be ignored!

AutumnLeaves
9652
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/02/12 - 05:33 pm
0
0
"Resistance is futile; you

"Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated..." (nod to Star Trek). I think of that phrase whenever I think of my family's ancestors, some of whom were Irish, French, American Indian (my family's preferred way of claiming that part of its heritage) and several other cultures. As a matter of fact, on one side of the family, French married Indian, and on the other side of the family, Irish married Indian. So, I would say they weren't exactly ignored, they were loved, but when the Caucasian husbands died, the properties of the American Indian widows were confiscated, something I suppose the husbands didn't quite anticipate or prepare them for. They weren't exactly ignored by the government then either, unfortunately.

AutumnLeaves
9652
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/02/12 - 05:36 pm
0
0
There are some American

There are some American Indians (or Native Americans) in the Augusta area, Cherokee, Navajo, Creek, Seminole, and many of mixed race, but usually there heritage is not evident to most of us because of the many past years of oppression, discrimination and worse, many are hesitant to reveal their lineage except to trusted friends.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 04/03/12 - 12:24 am
0
0
The Irish and the Greeks,

The Irish and the Greeks, they show up then never leave; soon everybody is drinking beer and eating feta.

Opa Yasou top of the morning to ya

kiwiinamerica
963
Points
kiwiinamerica 04/03/12 - 09:37 am
0
0
"Cultural" Catholicism.
Unpublished

"Cultural" Catholicism. Catholicism voided of its essentials so that only the popular, secular trimmings remain.

Shamrocks, Guinness, St. Patrick's Day parade, wearing green, getting drunk.................

Horrible.

my.voice
5092
Points
my.voice 04/03/12 - 11:54 am
0
1
“The Irish have gone through

“The Irish have gone through a lot of persecution and personal hardship over the years but they managed to sustain themselves,”

Being white also helped..........the white man knows little of actual persecution.

Bouganvillea
0
Points
Bouganvillea 04/03/12 - 01:09 pm
1
0
How can you do an article
Unpublished

How can you do an article about the Irish in the CSRA and not mention the Irish Travellers of Murphy Village? Talk about the 500lb gorilla in the room.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 04/03/12 - 01:16 pm
0
0
Back to Top

Top headlines

Lincoln County deputies injured breaking up fight

Two Lincoln County deputies were treated at an Augusta Hospital after being injured breaking up a fight at a party at an American Legion building in Lincolnton.
Search Augusta jobs