Irish cemetery historical informational sign dedicated & retiring Board members honored

Irish cemetery historical informational sign dedicated & retiring Board members honored

Sept. 18 was a great day for the Irish in Newport!

Mike Slein - resized
September 27, 2021
Dear Fellow Members.
Saturday, September 18 was a glorious late-summer day here in Newport, and the town was bustling with activity, including a boat show and a food and wine festival. With that busy backdrop, the Museum hosted two back-to-back gatherings of great importance. We were delighted to see many of you at one or both gatherings, and we hope those who were not able to attend in person and may not have read the recap in the local media or on Facebook take a few minutes now to catch up on our special news.
Please also read on for a couple important reminders.
With gratitude for your continued support,
Mike Slein
President, Board of Directors
(401) 855-5097 – mobile
Kyle Lepley Carol Lepley  Mike Slein
Kyle Lepley, his mother, Carol Lepley, and Mike Slein (photo by Jennifer Carter)
Museum of Newport Irish History members and friends gathered at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 18 to celebrate the unveiling of a new historical informational sign at the Barney Street Cemetery, located at the corner of Barney and Mt. Vernon Streets.
The cemetery is the final resting place of many of Newport’s earliest Irish immigrants. The park-like setting on which it stands was the site of Rhode Island’s first Catholic church and oldest parish, established in 1828, the forerunner of today’s St. Mary’s Church on Spring Street, which was consecrated in 1849 to “The Holy Name of Mary, Our Lady of the Isle.”
Museum board members Mike Slein and Carol Lepley spoke on behalf of the organization to the group of approximately thirty. Board President Slein recounted the story of the site, so central to the history of the early Irish in Newport. He also reminded attendees that the Museum of Newport Irish History restored the cemetery through an agreement with the Diocese of Providence and St. Mary’s Parish. When the restoration was completed, the cemetery was rededicated by the Diocese in March 1999, and the Museum continues to maintain and beautify the site with dedicated volunteers, many of whom were on hand.
The new informational sign was made possible by a generous gift from Carol Lepley and the Lepley Family, given in memory of her husband Steve, a longtime member of the Museum’s board of directors who passed away in December 2017. Carol Lepley memorialized her husband in her comments and spoke of the importance of the cemetery site to the community, her husband, her family, and many members. (click HERE to read Carol’s comments).
After the conclusion of the ceremony, the group reconvened at Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall on Wellington Avenue to continue the celebration and to honor Jack Curran and Peter Martin, two retiring members of the Museum Board of Directors, for their many years of dedicated service.
Museum members, area residents and visitors are encouraged to stop by the Barney Street Cemetery to explore the site, view the new sign and the gravestones, many of which reflect the county and parish in Ireland where the deceased were born. All are also invited to visit the Museum’s Interpretive Center at 648 Lower Thames Street, which is open for the 2021 Season Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m., through October 31, and at other times by appointment.
Please click the below green button to view a nice collection of photos taken at the sign dedication gathering and during the sign’s installation.
Note: You do not need a Facebook account to view the photo album.
(Photos by Jennifer Carter if not otherwise specified).
close up of the sign
Jack Curran Mike Slein Peter Martin
Jack Curran, Mike Slein and Peter Martin (photo by Jack McCormack)
As shared above, at the conclusion of the September 18 historical informational sign dedication at the Barney Street Cemetery, Museum members, including many members of the Curran and Martin families, reconvened at Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall on Wellington Avenue to continue the celebration and to honor Jack Curran and Peter Martin.
In his comments to the sixty assembled, Board President, Mike Slein, honored Jack and Peter for their many years of dedicated service to the organization and congratulated them for their new status as “Emeritus” board members.
Both men addressed the audience and were presented with a framed plaque, with thanks from the Board of Directors on behalf of the entire membership.
Guests enjoyed the delicious hors d’oeuvres and the traditional Irish music provided by two local musicians, who were joined by one of the guests of honor, Peter Martin, on the harmonica. The cocktail reception, which was orchestrated by board member, Kathy Papp,
ran from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and it was lovely start to a busy and festive late-summer Saturday night in Newport.
Please enjoy these photos from the event. and congratulate Jack and Peter when you see them around town!
Jack Curran, seated with family members, addresses those gathered
following Mike Slein’s presentation (photo by Alex Littlefield).
Peter Martin poses for a photo after receiving his plaque (photo by Alex Littlefield)
The second lecture in our 20th Annual Michael F. Crowley Lecture Series, will be presented Monday, October 25 at 6pm at the Wayfinder Hotel and via Zoom.
A full lecture description and speaker bios to follow, but the topic will be Irish immigrants in domestic service with a spotlight on the Irish working in the Newport mansions.
Our special guest speakers will be Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan, author of “The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930,” and Leslie B. Jones, Director of Museum Affairs & Chief Curator of the Preservation Society of Newport County.
A reception with light hors d’oeuvres will be held following the lecture and Q&A. Cash Bar

Dr. Margaret Lynch-Brennan
Margaret Lynch-Brennan
Leslie Jones
Leslie B. Jones
Museum Members will receive a flyer with details in the U.S. Mail and a follow up via e-newsletter. At that point, you will be able to make a reservation for the lecture, either in person or via Zoom.
In-person attendees must be fully vaccinated.
NOTE: As we are not able to host as many people in person vs. our pre-pandemic lecture series, seats at the Wayfinder Hotel the evening of the lecture are prioritized for Museum members of record and special guests. The per-person lecture fee is $5 (no fee to participate via Zoom).
Should you have non-member friends who would like to attend the Oct. 25 lecture in person, please encourage them to join the Museum, or arrange a gift membership for them on our website “Membership” page. Many more members and friends, from near and far, will be able to join us via Zoom.
Dr. Lynch-Brennan will have a limited number of copies of her book on hand for signature and sale,
following the presentation and Q&A.

To purchase the book online, in advance of the lecture,
click the above book photo.
Lecture Series Questions/Suggestions?
Please contact Ann at
Time to renew clip art
A number of our members with Annual (vs. Life) memberships remain lapsed in their dues for the current Membership/Fiscal year, which runs Apr. 1, 2021 to Mar. 31, 2022.
If you have not paid your dues for the current Membership cycle, we hope you will do so at this time by clicking the below “Membership” button.
Not sure of your status?
BEFORE making a payment, please reach out to Ann and she’ll get back to you swiftly to confirm your status.
Email her at
Thank you for your continued support of our Mission!
In case you missed seeing/reading our e-newsletter of September 15, please click the below green button to access a copy.
If you prefer to receive these notices at an alternative or additional email address, please send a note to Ann at and the change will be made to your record. Please do not use the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom to communicate changes.
Museum of Newport Irish History
Mailing Address:
PO Box 1378, Newport, RI 02840
Interpretive Center Location:
648 Lower Thames Street, Newport RI 02840

Museum Board of Directors:
The MISSION of the Museum of Newport Irish History is to tell the story of the Irish immigrants and their descendants in Newport County and the surrounding area from the colonial era to the present. It also seeks to preserve artifacts and mementos relating to their experiences and facilitate
research on Irish history and heritage.