Historical Malvern, PA



        Being a former Man of Malvern, the spiritual weekends spent at the lay Retreat House brings back many pleasant memories. While I lived in the Philadelphia area, I attended the retreat annually, first with classmates from LaSalle College (now a University) and then with the Irish Pioneers (although I never became a member, and still enjoy a sip of the creature.)

After I submitted the article “The 1880’s sans The Civil War,” a blog reader, Don Gray, forwarded information on the feats of his Irish ancestor, Nicholas Gray. After reviewing the material, I promised Don I would include it in a future article. This was followed by a question from Paul Allen regarding my knowledge of John Boyle O’Reilly. After Googleing O’Reilly, I replied to Allen: ‘Till that moment, I knew nothing about the man.’ These emails occurred about the time that news broke on ‘Ireland’s Forgotten Sons.’ Railroad workers, whose remains were found in Duffy’s Cut, near Malvern, PA.

I’m currently researching the Revolutionary War, including Anthony Wayne, a Scot-Irishman and member of the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick. Mad Anthony was surprised by the Redcoats near Paoli Tavern, which is close to Malvern. Wayne will be a character in my narrative history on “The Irish in the Revolutionary War.”

Initially I decided to include in today’s article: the Irish in Australia (O’Reilly) and Canada (Gray). I have a special regard for Australia, since an aunt of my wife’s, who had emigrated from County Cork to that land down under, left Betty a small inheritance, which we used as the down payment on our first house.

Deferring Don Gray was a tough call; since he was involved in Ireland’s 1798 Rising, Bold Robert Emmet’s cause, and America’s War of 1812. However, I plan to include him in the article on Canada because so many on the American side of the border, including me, know so little of the invasions of Canada; during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and following the Civil War. In each of these engagements, Irish fought on both sides.

Regarding the evacuation of the remains at Malvern’s Duffy’s Cut, which began in 2002. All too often we glance at historical events, such as the building of the Union Pacific Railroad mainly by Irish immigrants, and forget those involved were human beings and not just cold statistics. A “Cut” is the term given to a project when the soil from a nearby hill fills a valley to level the route for the railroad. The evacuaters of Duffy’s Cut, Frank and William Watson, have tentatively identified one of the 57-corpses at the site as John Ruddy, a teenager from County Donegal. Ruddy had his young life snuffed out either from cholera, or he was executed because the locals were afraid he’d spread the disease.

May the Men of Malvern make a special effort to include in their prayers the souls of these Irishmen.


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