Members of the Margaret of New Orleans Community Association in Carrigallen recently travelled to the USA to participate in the International New Orleans Famine Commemoration.
â€œMaura Williamson and I travelled over for the event, which was held between November 4 and 9,â€ committee member Helen Corcoran told the Longford Leader. â€œWe received the invitation after Dr Laura Kelley, a history lecturer at Tulane University in New Orleans - and editor and co-author of the newly-published book, â€˜The Irish in New Orleansâ€™ visited Margaretâ€™s cottage.â€
Margaret Gaffney, who was born in Carrigallen in 1818, emmigrated to New Orleans with her parents and two of her siblings at the age of five, and went on to become a leading philantropist in the city, who dedicated her life to working with orphans and the homeless.
â€œWe visited her burial place, and at a special commemoration at the Celtic Cross in the Canal Basin area, Minister Heather Humphreys lay soil taken from around Margaretâ€™s cottage in Carrigallen, which Dr Kelley had collected and brought over,â€ Helen explained. â€œIt was a poignant moment to see some of Margaretâ€™s own soil spread there.â€
While there, Helen and Maura also partipated in a symposium hosted by Tulane University, where they spoke to many people who were eager to know about Margaretâ€™s Irish links.
Helen also revealed a committee was formed during their time in New Orleans, with the aim of securing Margaretâ€™s beatification.
â€œPJ Bradley, who is a former Northern Irish MLA, first had the idea, which he got through his work and visits to New Orleans,â€ Helen said. â€œAnd last Wednesday, some of the committeeâ€™s American delegates met with Archbishop Aymond of New Orleans, as the process has to be started in the area where Margaretâ€™s good deeds were carried out.
Helen added, â€œThat process is still in its early stages, so we have no timeframe on it yet.â€