Honoring the Irish New park recognizes contributions to S.C. history

Ruth (from top) and Paul Wurtzel and Angela Green visit the new Irish Memorial, with its massive granite representation of the Emerald Isle, at the end of Charlotte Street on Tuesday.

Charleston’s new park celebrating the contributions of the Irish throughout South Carolina will be dedicated June 10 at the harbor waterfront.

And just so everyone remembers it, a giant 10-by-15-foot Irish flag will fly from Castle Pinckney that day.

Among the VIPs scheduled to attend are the Irish ambassador to the U.S., Michael Collins, along with other dignitaries from the Emerald Isle, including from Charleston’s “twin” locale, County Clare.

Located at the end of Charlotte Street, the $2.4 million “South Carolina Irish Memorial” features a concrete pier extending over the water, and a raised 30-by-24-foot carved granite map of Ireland.

“It’s beautiful,” said Charleston attorney David McCann, a member of the memorial committee. “They did a remarkable job.”

At the street entrance, three flag poles displaying the city of Charleston, U.S. and Irish flags greet visitors, while plaques containing period and historical quotes on Irish immigration face the water.

The design, by landscape architect Sheila Wertimer, includes a cul-de-sac leading into five grassy panels and brick walkways heading toward the pier. Oak trees that one day will grow into a shady canopy cover the side spaces.

The monument idea dates back nearly 20 years. Advocates wanted to memorialize some of the city’s earliest residents and some of the families which contributed to the local tapestry.

Irish roots in Charleston and the state run deep. South Carolina Irishmen gained fame for fighting in the Civil War and worked on bridging the harbor. They signed the Declaration of Independence and ran the city as powerful mayors. Others played more unsung roles from the bottom of the social ladder.

Charleston’s modern-day Irish community raised about $400,000 for the memorial, with another $50,000 dedicated to maintaining it.

The park, officially dubbed Charlotte Street Park, provides the endpoint to the city’s harborwalk, a path that ultimately will wrap all the way around the peninsula’s southern edge, from Brittlebank Park to Charlotte Street.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.