| 4.6°C Dublin

Archaeologists dig for secrets of 'New Dublin'

A PRE-Famine Irish shantytown dubbed New Dublin near Boston is set to shed new light on some of the first Irish emigrants to the US.

Archaeologists have begun a major dig at Lowell, Massachusetts, at the site of St Patrick's Church, which was built by Irish immigrants who worked on building canals in 1831. The original Irish settlement was called New Dublin, according to an 1831 article in the Portsmouth Journal.

It consisted of 100 cabins about seven to 10 feet tall, built of stone and rough boards, and also included a schoolhouse with 150 children.

When more Irish arrived, they built a wooden church near their homes and called it after St Patrick.

A rebuilt version of the original 1831 church remains with its grounds virtually untouched over the nearly 200 years since the settlement's founding.

Archaeologists plan to excavate the church lawn in search of clues about how its inhabitants lived in their newly adopted country. Many of the Irish workers died in accidents while digging the canals.

"We are hoping to find artifacts from their everyday life as clues to their lifestyle," Frank Talty, co-director of University of Massachusetts Centre for Irish Partnerships, said.

"That's the story to be told -- how did they live?"