Astoria’s Irish potato famine cemetery

The real name of this tidy 19th century burial ground on 26th Avenue and 21st Street is “The Graveyard of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.”

But it’s always been known by its nickname, because many of the people buried there immigrated from Ireland in the 1840s during the potato famine.

Back then, 21st Street was the heart of a small Irish enclave in Queens, populated by immigrants who worked as servants for Anglo and Dutch families and in local factories.

It’s a small cemetery wedged between residences. Peer through the iron fence and you see all Irish names on the stones: Donnelly, Kelly, Muldarry, Joyce.

Many of them list the deceased’s county of birth. And all the gravestones face East, toward Ireland.

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10 Responses to “Astoria’s Irish potato famine cemetery”

  1. Kate Says:

    I walked by this cemetery with my family just the other day and wondered about it. This is great, thanks!!

  2. Alex Says:

    This is just off Astoria Park. I was in there a couple of times as a kid, it was all covered with bushes and trees and weeds, very unkempt. They cleaned it up in the 1990s.

  3. KathleenDonohoe Says:

    I’m a life-long New Yorker and I’ve never heard of this cemetery. This is really fascinating, especially the part about all the graves facing Ireland. I’ve posted a piece about the Famine on my own blog and I found yours because I was curious to see if others were writing about it. The pictures are great too!

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks–I was also surprised that this cemetery has had so little coverage. At the cemetery itself, you’d expect some fanfare, some historical info, but there’s nothing.

  5. A Morning « Big City Adventure Says:

    [...] of Magic Laundry Service. I promise (and desperately need) to drop in soon and continue past the Irish potato famine cemetery before I reach 21st Street. Turning and walking towards Astoria Boulevard I look for an [...]

  6. ASTORIA to LENOX HILL, Part 1 | | Forgotten New YorkForgotten New York Says:

    [...] owns and cares for the Irish Famine Cemetery in Astoria Village (see below) at 21st Street and 26th [...]

  7. The upside-down ship’s hull inside St. Brigid’s Church « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] These shipwrights were Irish immigrants who came to New York in coffin ships fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. [...]

  8. Tom E Says:

    we played there in the early 50’s……..you could not see the stones when I was a kid…it was so overgrown you couldn’t stand up in most places…….we played for long hours in that cemetery….great memories…I lived on 14th place…

  9. tridh chavez,Aitken Says:

    My friend lived across the street she use to be afraid of that cemetery.

  10. Susan Morgan Koren Says:

    We played there too some times..It was so neglected in those days. It belonged to Mt. Carmel and they fogot about it. We played more in St. Georges cemetery tho.

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