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Irish immigrant monument unveiled in South Buffalo

Thomas O'Neil-White

From the midpoint of the 19th century to the present day, the Irish community and Buffalo have become inseparable from each other.

To honor the struggle and sacrifices of Irish immigrants, State Assemblyman Patrick Burke and Buffalo Common Councilman Chris Scanlon unveiled an Irish Immigrant Monument outside of the Buffalo Irish Center on Abbott Road in South Buffalo.

Citing his own family’s history in Western New York, Burke said monument honors them and the people who dedicated their lives towards making Western New York a better place for all.

“For me, being a descendent of Irish immigrants, when I think of Irish culture I know a lot of people think of green beer and corn beef sandwiches,” he said. “I think of the strong legacy of public service, of community, of faith and togetherness.”

Burke said what frequently gets lost in the conversation about the Irish in the United States is how they were treated as second class citizens when they arrived. The monument depicts a family arriving at Ellis Isle but also depicts a store owner pointing to an “Irish Need Not Apply” sign, a reminder of the discriminatory practices of the time.

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White
Buffalo Common Council member Chris Scanlon (left) and State Assemblyman Pat Burke.

Buffalo Irish Center Chairwoman Mary Heneghan said having the monument on the grounds of the center is a positive reflection of the Irish community’s impact on the City of Buffalo.

“Their legacy lives on,” she said. “And our community is a better place because of their contributions.”

The monument was commissioned by Burke and Scanlon and was completed by local artist Bill Koch.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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