This Island Near the Maine Coast Holds a Sad History for Hundreds of Irish Immigrants
On this St. Patrick’s Day take the time to remember the Irish who lost their lives of the coast of Maine while traveling to a new world in the 1800’s.
Hospital Island is a small island with only about 3 acres of land, but it is the final resting place for hundreds of lost Irish souls. The tiny island in Passamaquoddy Bay, just about 5 miles off the coast of Robbinston, Maine, is actually part of Canada.
It was here that a quarantine hospital was built to manage a cholera outbreak in 1832. In 1847 the Island was officially renamed Hospital Island and began to become over whelmed with large groups of Irish attempting to escape the Famine. Many developed typhoid on the journey to the island and died before reaching land. Others were quarantined and many never made it to the mainland.The exact number of deaths is unknown but estimated to be around 400 people and all who died were buried here.
As if the Irish who died here didn’t have enough bad luck! In 1869 a violent storm created such large waves portions of the shore line was pounded until the shore began to fall into the ocean. This washed away some of the burial area for the Irish and exposed bones, coffins, and even washed some remains ashore. What could be was collected and returned to a burial spot on the island that was more inland.
Today the island is privately owned and all that remains of the doomed hospital are lines in the ground from foundations. It is now used primarily as a busy nesting site for birds of many types. Nearby islands had similar quarantine stations and in 1995 a monument was erected of a Celtic Cross facing the sea and the islands where so many Irish lives were lost.
More information on the monument and Hospital Island can be found here.