Covering Battery Park City

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer

An Irish Cottage

The Irish immigrants who made such a mark on New York City are remembered year round, not just on St. Patrick’s Day, at the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. The memorial records the dreadful famine of 1845-1852 that killed over a million people in Ireland and drove a million more to emigrate.

A focal point of the memorial is a roofless cottage, taken stone by stone from Carradoogan in the parish of Attymass, County Mayo. With no electricity or running water, it sheltered six generations of the Slack family. It was last inhabited in the 1960’s.

The cottage was shipped to New York City in 47 large containers and reassembled under the supervision of Nigel Copsey, a mason trained in traditional stone construction. The mortar that holds the stones together is made from lime and is more flexible than Portland cement, used in modern structures.

The Slack family donated the cottage to the memorial in “memory of all the Slack family members of previous generations who emigrated to America and fared well there.”

The Irish Hunger Memorial was dedicated on July 16, 2002 by Mary McAleese, president of the Republic of Ireland, and by a number of politicians and dignitaries including Timothy S. Carey, then president and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority, George Pataki, who was governor of New York State at the time, and James Gill, chairman of the Battery Park City Authority. All had ancestors who had emigrated from Ireland.

Battery Park City in Bloom: Winter Heath

Though we have been favored with a few temperate days, cold and even snow can persist through March. Early-blooming bulbs are beginning to show leaves and flowers in some of Battery Park City’s sheltered nooks, but much of Battery Park City is subjected to sharp winds from the river. Atop the Irish Hunger Memorial, a particularly wind-swept spot, hardy winter heath (Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Rote’’) is in bloom as similar plants might be on the wind-swept coast of Ireland.

There are more than 800 species of heath, five of them indigenous to Great Britain. All are evergreen shrubs, known to the great 18th century botanist, Carl Linnaeus. The heath atop the Irish Hunger Memorial should continue to bloom for another month or so. Then it will be supplanted by flowers such as yellow flag iris and foxglove, chosen for the memorial because they bloomed in County Mayo where deaths were first reported from the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.

B.P.C. Parks Conservancy Seeks Volunteers

City dwellers starved for a chance to dig and prune can sate that longing by volunteering to work alongside the horticultural staff at the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy. The community has more than 30 acres of parks and gardens that are maintained without the use of toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Volunteers have a chance to learn about the Conservancy’s gardening methods and to make an important contribution to maintaining Battery Park City’s internationally acclaimed gardens. Volunteers work Wednesday mornings, 7:30 a.m. to noon, from May 4 to October 26. Experience is a plus, but not necessary.

“We will train as we go!” said Eileen Calvanese, head horticulturist.

For more information, call (212) 267-9700 or e-mail [email protected]

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