Gathered at Martinsburg cemetery, celebrating Irish roots

Updated: Oct. 5, 2019 at 6:21 PM EDT
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MARTINSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s a chance to celebrate a thriving Irish community that once was. Tucked away in the town of Martinsburg sits the Maple Ridge Cemetery.

The roads to get there are a bit bumpy. For part of the year, they’re not treated at all. But on Saturday, people came to celebrate the town’s Irish roots.

“They were their own little community up here. Maple Ridge and all of the surrounding roads had Irish families,” said Bette Lethan.

Saturday’s ceremony celebrated the end of a three year restoration project at the cemetery. Part of the day was dedicated to Irish soldiers who fought in the American Civil War.

Jane Ostrowidzki’s great grandfather James McGrath was one of them. She’s originally from Lowville, but now lives in Texas. She says the ceremony has drawn in family from all over the country.

“They came from New York City, from Pennsylvania, from Texas, from Camden, New York. Arizona,” said Ostrowidzki.

There are steps to the Saint Patrick’s Church that once stood on the grounds. The church was torn down in the 1940′s. But when it stood, it was able to host a large part of the town’s Irish community.

Lethan said it could seat 400 people.

A historic road marker was unveiled to honor the spot of the church and a restored alter from the original church was on display.

Bette Lethan said the ceremony is a way to remember some of the people that once populated the town.

On Saturday, the visitors who made the trek added a new chapter to Maple Ridge Cemetery’s Irish history.

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