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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Massachusetts Irish Group Commemorates Irish Famine Ship - Brig St. John - that Sank off Cohasset Coast in 1849




Local Irish-Americans are commemorating the 161st anniversary of the Brig St. John tragedy this Sunday, October 3, in Cohasset, Massachusetts.

The annual ceremony is organized by Division 9 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.  It begins with a Catholic mass at 1:00 p.m. at St. Anthony's Church, 129 Main Street, in Cohasset, followed by a laying of a wreath at Cohasset Central Cemetery and a reception at the parish hall.

The Brig St. John was travelling with 104 passengers and 16 sailors from Galway to Boston Harbor on October 6, 1849, when it encountered a nor'easter that was wrecking havoc along the coast.  The storm pushed the boat south as the Brig tried unsuccessfully to anchor near Minot Light. 

As hundreds of people watched horrified from the shoreline, the ship was swamped by a 50-foot wave and it crashed against the rocks of Grampus Ledge.  Of the 120 people on board, only eleven survived.  Forty-five bodies were recovered from the ocean, and were buried at Central Cemetery.

In 1914 the AOH erected a 19 foot Celtic Cross at the gravesite, where the wreath-laying ceremony takes place.

Local author Paul A. Fiori has written a book on the tragedy entitled On Grampus Ledge: The Wreck of the Brig St. John on October 7, 1849.

For more information on this event, please call Dr. Bill O'Connell at 781 585-8181.

For year round information on Irish activities in Massachusetts and the New England states, visit IrishMassachusetts.com.  For details on other Irish landmarks, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.

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