Leadville, CO

Irish officials in collaboration with CU Denver to name new sister city to Leadville

Mile High News

John Holm/Wikimedia Commons

LEADVILLE, CO - In the 1800s, Leadville, Colorado had a connection with Allihies in County Cork, Ireland. It happened when Irish miners first settled in the Rocky Mountain region.

James Walsh, a political science associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver is now working with Irish Officials to form a sister-city partnership to raise awareness of the migration during North America's largest silver boom.

Back then, the Irish community in Colorado is barely 3.9 percent of the total population and is dispersed across the state. At that time, there were barely a few dozen Irish men and women in Leadville.

When the Colorado Silver Boom began in 1879, Leadville experienced a rise in the Irish population. One year after that, there were 2,300 residents that were Irish natives, which is nearly 10% of Leadville's population at that time. Around 40% of those immigrants were from Allihies, a small city that mined and exported copper.

Despite the fact that the Irish came to Leadville for the various job opportunities, Walsh claimed that they were not treated properly, causing two strikes.

The Irish miners decided it was time to retake the mines for themselves in September 1896, and attempted to storm two of the occupied mines. As a result, 20 Irish strikers were killed.

Then in 2003, Walsh discovered thousands of unmarked graves in Leadville's Evergreen Cemetery. Those unmarked graves are probably the Irish miners and their families that couldn't survive due to the harsh winter conditions, diseases, and political problems.

Thanks to Walsh, Irish Government, and the local Irish community, a memorial is being built to honor the Irish miners and others who died in the Rocky Mountains.

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