The Greening of the Prairie: Irish Immigration and Settlement in McLean County

Mar 17, 2012 to Jan 16, 2016

Sponsored by:

McLean County Museum of History Greening of the Prairie
  • McLean County Museum of History Greening of the Prairie

For the past two hundred years, Irish people have made their way to Central Illinois. This exhibit examines why they left Ireland, the challenges they faced once they arrived, their successes and failures, and the impact their presence has had on our community. The exhibit features historic objects, photographs and maps about those of Irish-Catholic famine immigrants who came to this area in the early 1850s as industrial and farming pioneers. From these folks came families whose names and stories are with us today, Costigan, Brady, Flynn, Deneen, O'Neil, Irvin and many others They worked to build the railroad and opened the early black-dirt prairie farms. Stories of Scots-Irish pioneers who built homes much like they had in Ireland and Scotland, and brought with them spinning, and weaving skills are featured as well.

See the finding aid of our archival collection containing the research for this exhibit here (PDF, opens in new tab)