2015-03-05 / Around Town

All Aboard for Irish Sites

By Hannah Bishop

One of the most anticipated events during Newport’s annual Irish Heritage Month is the Trolley Tour of Irish Newport, on Saturday, March 7, sponsored by the Museum of Newport Irish History. The tour incorporates history and sightseeing and is a fun, interactive way to learn about the city’s rich Irish heritage. Approximately 30 sites are seen during the tour. Tour of Irish Newport brochures will be distributed on the trolley, but they may also be picked up at the museum’s interpretive center for those who prefer a self-guided tour.

The narrated trolley tour travels all over Newport and stops at many local heritage sites, beginning and ending at Hibernian Hall. Riders will get a chance to depart the bus at places like the Barney Street Cemetery, the first Irish cemetery in the state. Visitors can read the headstones and notice that most buried there were born in Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Museum of Newport Irish History’s interpretive center, located on lower Thames Street, is also a stop, and guests can see displays on various facets of Irish heritage.

The tour passes many locations important to the city as a whole, not just the Irish. Three churches are visited. St. Augustin’s Church has many stained glass windows reflecting the Irish parishioners’ heritage. St. Mary’s, where America’s first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, married summer resident Jacqueline Bouvier, and St. Joseph’s Church on Broadway will be highlighted. Each church holds a different significance to the Irish.

The Forty Steps, located on the famed Cliff Walk, was a popular gathering spot for residents and served as the setting for many informal dances on Friday nights. Even some of the mansions boast an Irish link. Rosecliff was built by Theresa Fair Oelrichs, the daughter of an immigrant from Belfast who struck it rich in the Comstock Load, the richest silver deposit ever uncovered.

The Tour of Irish Newport, whether on the trolley or self-guided, is a great way to learn about Newport’s proud Irish heritage.

Return to top