Madigan Muses: Stories in Stone

Madigan Muses: Stories in Stone
by Marilyn Madigan

Monuments serve a very important role in our country. Monuments tell the story of important events and individuals in our history. There is a movement to remove some of the Statues and Monuments of the American Civil War. This would be a great disservice to this country. The events commemorated on any individual monument can help to start a conversation. The stories behind these monuments share our glorious and also some of our darkest moments. We need to know our history build on the good and make sure the bad is not repeated.

I recently saw the movie Glory. At the end of the movie, it was stated the screenwriter wrote this story after he saw the monument in Boston dedicated to the Massachusetts 54th. This unit was an all-Black unit in the Civil War. If he had not seen this monument, this story would probably be unknown to the majority of Americans.

Making this story into a movie highlighted the good and bad of this period of time and the individuals who served to preserving our Union. A great example of why Monuments should remain, to tell their stories.

There is a Monument in Washington that also highlights a special group during the Civil War. This monument is the Nuns of the Battlefield, across from St. Matthew’s Cathedral. This monument was the idea of the National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Ellen Ryan Jolly. The stories about these twelve Orders of Sisters was addressed in the book that Jolly wrote by the same name. 

Nowhere at the Monument itself is the story of the important contributions of these Sisters.  You need to go behind the Monument to see that the LAAOH was responsible for building it. The Monument of the Nuns of the Battlefield was dedicated on September 24,1924. The National President of the Ladies was Adele Christy, from Cleveland Ohio. One of my goals is to have a Marker at this Monument to tell the stories of these Sisters and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Hibernians who made this possible. Hopefully the Marker will be completed by 2024 and be placed a century after the Monument’s Dedication.

At the recent New York AOH State Convention, AOH Historian Mike McCormack released a book about the Irish Monuments, Memorials and Commemorative Signs in the State of New York. I was lucky to be given a copy of this book. It is excellent, with great stories about each of these monuments. It is not just New York’s history, but all of Irish America’s history. This idea was conceived by outgoing AOH President Vic  Vogel.  What a legacy he helped to share.

In the mid 1960s, a group of prominent Cleveland Irish Americans took their pictures by the Nuns of the Battlefield Monument. Like New York, we need to share the story of why this group was in DC and the reason the group photo was taken by this Monument.

Nuns of Battlefield with Prominent Clevelanders

I am including the two photos that were shared with me by Gus Boland. His father Gus is in both photos. In the one photo, Eamon D’Arcy and Gus Boland are placing the wreath. When it comes to monuments, Eamon D’Arcy is one of those responsible for Cleveland’s Famine Monument., he carved it himself.

Eamon D’Arcy and Gus Boland

I do not know many of the names in the other photo. Those that I recognized in addition to Eamon D’Arcy and Gus Boland include Terry Joyce and Jim Stanton. I am very interested if anyone knows the woman; if you know anything about this visit to DC and/or can identify the individuals, please email me at [email protected].

Thank you and let us start telling the stories of our monuments in Cleveland and statewide.


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