St. Louis - Celtic Cross Monument

Granite wall would memorialize city's Irish ancestors

By John M. McGuire
Of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
(Copyright © 2002, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Would you like your family name carved on a granite wall that commemorates the St. Louis Irish immigrants' role in the growth of the city? A chiseled suggestion that your ancestors were part of it? If so, the price is $350 for 30 characters, including spaces between names — McGlynn, Mullanphy, Faherty, O'Sullivan, O'Fallon, O'Neill and maybe McGuire.

These incised names will be on a wall facing an 18-foot-high, granite Celtic cross rising from [a] reflecting pool, dedicated to Irish families who helped make this a viable city, said Clayton attorney Joseph B. McGlynn Jr., who is involved in the project.

All of this will be on the western side of a historic downtown edifice, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Catholic Church, once known as the Irish Parish and for three decades the Catholic Church's main cathedral here. It was built at the beginning of the Civil War, 1860, and once had such famous parishioners as the wife of famed Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

McGlynn is from a long line of University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish alumni and the man who organized the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade 33 years ago.

His Irish connections also include being the Republic of Ireland's honorary general consul in St. Louis. It's a position that gives him strong ties to the Atlantic island nation, and the ability to bring important and significant figures from Ireland to St. Louis, especially for St. Patrick's Day Parades.

This year, McGlynn has lured Mark Durkan of Derry, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, to be guest of honor for the St. Louis parade Saturday. Durkan is known for trying to convince Protestant unionists that a united Ireland would benefit them and that it should be the focus of a new campaign for nationalism.

Of course, the downtown parade will pass near McGlynn's planned monument to "memorialize your family name." St. John's Church, at 15th and Locust streets in the Plaza Square section, was once a religious center for pre-famine, Irish immigrants, mostly of the upper crust, said the Rev. William Barnaby Faherty, 86, a Jesuit historian with a distinct Irish [flair]. His most recent book, his 27th — St. Louis Irish: An Unmatched Celtic Community — is a perfect literary backdrop for this monument idea.

The monument is something McGlynn's been trying to do for the past 30 years. An earlier idea went awry, he said, with the proposed structure looking more like a beer can.

"The big problem was trying to find the right property to set it on, and St. John's is certainly the right place. And it isn't going to cost the city a nickel," McGlynn said. He added that the 60-foot wall could accomodate 600 names.

The Celtic Cross Monument was installed and dedicated on March 13, 2005. Sponsorship opportunities remain; if you would like to have your family name engraved on a granite panel, see the contribution page.