Month: May 2023

Preserving The Graves Of Irish Americans in Reno

SADOE Member Fran Tryon returned to give an update at the May General Meeting about the restoration efforts of Nevada’s oldest burial grounds that contains the graves of about 30 Irish families.

Located at 900 Nevada Street near the Knights of Pythias Hall just west of UNR, the Hillside Cemetery has undergone many improvements since Tryon first spoke to SADOE in 2018 about those Irish buried there–several of whom immigrated to America as during the Great Famine of the 19th Century.

Her presentation then and at our May meeting brought to life many of the over 30 Irish Americans buried there by discussing who they were, their decedents and ancestors. Each person buried there requires 36 hours of research. The cemetery was established in 1876 and was widely used until the early 20th Century. Those buried there include those families that have Reno streets named after them. For example, Irish American Kate Mayberry, daughter of James Mayberry and Catherine Blessington Mayberry and her three aunts. Also among them is the late Nevada Congressman George Cassidy, who served from 1886-1890, who received a US Congressional Marker at his grave.

For years, the cemetery had been neglected, vandalized which required years of volunteer labor to clear the brush and haul away trash. Tryon and others formed the Hillside Cemetery Preservation Foundation (HCPF) as a non profit organization dedicated to protecting the cemetery and engages in restoration efforts, public information campaigns to protect the cemetery from development and guarding against vandals and thieves. Their Facebook page reports on their events and activities.

They welcome assistance with the cemetery’s upkeep as they are a volunteer organization. Several community organizations donate their time and resources.

In 2019, SADOE was awarded $2000 in Grants from the City of Reno and the Southern Nevada Sons & Daughters of Erin (SNSDOE) to install burial plaques at the Irish Family plots and other restoration projects. In August of that year, a delegation of SNSDOE members came up to Reno to assist in clean up efforts and to present our organization with a check.

In August 2020, during the pandemic, the Irish grave plaques were installed and a brought a significant improvement to the cemetery. In June of 2022, SADOE awarded the remaining $500 in funds to the HCPF from its original grant money. The Foundation frequently holds a Meet the Families event to raise money for ongoing restoration and to celebrate the completion of their work.

Thanks to SADOE members and previous Irish Persons of the Year David Bobzien and Missy Reinheimer for their roles in helping us get the grant funds.

Related: The July 2023 Version of the Reno News & Review published a story on SADOE’s efforts to restore Irish American graves at Hillside Cemetery.

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