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The Bostwick Building circa 1924.
Marvin D. Boland/Courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

Irish heritage sites in and around Seattle for St. Patrick’s Day

From Whidbey Island to Tacoma

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The Bostwick Building circa 1924.
| Marvin D. Boland/Courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

Another March, another St. Paddy’s. The holiday has a rowdy reputation—which is why for for some, celebration will mean bar-hopping, green beer, and hastily-thrown-together, pinch-avoidant outfits. But for many it’s a day to celebrate Irish-American culture and history, which makes for a great excuse to visit some local Irish heritage sites.

While Seattle doesn’t have as many sites and monuments as, say, Boston, we still have our fair share. And it’s fitting: Our damp, green climate is eerily similar to that of our Irish sister city, Galway.

St. Patrick’s Day is this Sunday, so we asked Seattle’s Irish Heritage Club about major historical sites in the area. Puget Sound Irish-American historian John Keane came through for us with five major Irish history sites. A couple are in Seattle, but they stretch out as far as Kent, Whidbey Island, and Tacoma.

Good news for people who like to hang out in cemeteries: The majority of them are graves.

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1. Maylor Headstone

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90 Cemetery Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239

Like the O’Brien’s grave, the Maylor headstone contains some Irish earth: After Mary Barrett Maylor died, her husband, Samuel Lindsay Maylor, traveled back to their native Cork to have a Gaelic headstone engraved.

If you end up visiting the Whidbey Island Grave, the text translates to a top-level timeline of her life: “Mary Barrett died here April 9, AD 1861. She was 31 years of age. She was born in Nenagh Ireland, beloved wife of Samuel Maylor. They were married in Liverpool in St. Peter's Church 21st December 1856. They had three sons, Paul, Thomas B and Mairion S. Her father was John (Eoin) Barrett, Tralee. Her mother Clara Page, Limerick. Arise.”

The marker is at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. More guidance can be found on Find A Grave.

Courtesy of John Keane

2. Maria and Terence O’Brien’s headstone

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5041 35th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

This headstone has a sad but sweet story: Terence and Maria O’Brien left Ireland for the Pacific Northwest in 1862, but Maria died the day before their ship docked. Terence had promised that Maria would be buried in Irish soil—so he had a load of soil shipped from Ireland.

While the grave was initially located in Victoria, it was moved—Irish soil and all—to Seattle upon Terence’s death. Their son, Terence Jr., erected a very expensive, $1,400 monument on top.

That still wasn’t the last stop for the grave: In 1893, the cemetery was ordered vacated, so Terence Jr. camped out by his parents’ graves demanding his parents’ remains not be moved. Eventually, the church agreed to move the whole lot, with the soil and headstone.

What the Irish Club calls “Seattle’s genuine ‘bit o’ the ould sod’” is now in Calvary Cemetery, not far from University Village. For help finding the grave, Find A Grave has more detailed information.

Courtesy of John Keane

3. The Galway Stone

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2210 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98121

Seattle and Galway have been sister cities since 1986—and to commemorate years of intercity friendship, both cities placed stone monuments dedicated to one another. Galway’s was placed in 1993, but we took until 2000 to get ours together.

The monument, shaped like a large stone, has a bronze marker on top with geophysical data of Galway, with an arrow pointing in the city’s direction. It’s on the waterfront, right across from Pier 66.

Address is approximate.

4. Saint Patrick Cemetery

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(253) 838-2240
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This cemetery was created on Irish-owned land—originally the O’Connell family farm—in 1880, and was specifically set aside for Irish Catholic families in the area. In 1902, the Catholic Church officially purchased the cemetery, which is now maintained by nearby Gethsemane Cemetery in Federal Way.

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5. Bostwick Building

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756 Broadway
Tacoma, WA 98402

Dublin-born Rossell G. O’Brien was a former mayor and city council member in Olympia—and, for better or worse, he may be a huge reason why it’s custom to stand during the national anthem.

The story goes that at a meeting of former Union officers at the Bostwick Building in Tacoma in 1893, O’Brien made a motion that "people should rise and remove their hats, if they were not in the military, and stand at attention for the playing of the national anthem."

Some say O’Brien isn’t the first to come up with this—Daniel Webster is credited for popularizing the practice, too. But regardless, a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter installed a plaque on the Bostwick Building, which is now apartments and the Bostwick Cafe, commemorating O’Brien’s motion in 1970.

1. Maylor Headstone

90 Cemetery Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
Courtesy of John Keane

Like the O’Brien’s grave, the Maylor headstone contains some Irish earth: After Mary Barrett Maylor died, her husband, Samuel Lindsay Maylor, traveled back to their native Cork to have a Gaelic headstone engraved.

If you end up visiting the Whidbey Island Grave, the text translates to a top-level timeline of her life: “Mary Barrett died here April 9, AD 1861. She was 31 years of age. She was born in Nenagh Ireland, beloved wife of Samuel Maylor. They were married in Liverpool in St. Peter's Church 21st December 1856. They had three sons, Paul, Thomas B and Mairion S. Her father was John (Eoin) Barrett, Tralee. Her mother Clara Page, Limerick. Arise.”

The marker is at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. More guidance can be found on Find A Grave.

90 Cemetery Rd
Coupeville, WA 98239

2. Maria and Terence O’Brien’s headstone

5041 35th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Courtesy of John Keane

This headstone has a sad but sweet story: Terence and Maria O’Brien left Ireland for the Pacific Northwest in 1862, but Maria died the day before their ship docked. Terence had promised that Maria would be buried in Irish soil—so he had a load of soil shipped from Ireland.

While the grave was initially located in Victoria, it was moved—Irish soil and all—to Seattle upon Terence’s death. Their son, Terence Jr., erected a very expensive, $1,400 monument on top.

That still wasn’t the last stop for the grave: In 1893, the cemetery was ordered vacated, so Terence Jr. camped out by his parents’ graves demanding his parents’ remains not be moved. Eventually, the church agreed to move the whole lot, with the soil and headstone.

What the Irish Club calls “Seattle’s genuine ‘bit o’ the ould sod’” is now in Calvary Cemetery, not far from University Village. For help finding the grave, Find A Grave has more detailed information.

5041 35th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

3. The Galway Stone

2210 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121

Seattle and Galway have been sister cities since 1986—and to commemorate years of intercity friendship, both cities placed stone monuments dedicated to one another. Galway’s was placed in 1993, but we took until 2000 to get ours together.

The monument, shaped like a large stone, has a bronze marker on top with geophysical data of Galway, with an arrow pointing in the city’s direction. It’s on the waterfront, right across from Pier 66.

Address is approximate.

2210 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98121

4. Saint Patrick Cemetery

Kent, WA 98032

This cemetery was created on Irish-owned land—originally the O’Connell family farm—in 1880, and was specifically set aside for Irish Catholic families in the area. In 1902, the Catholic Church officially purchased the cemetery, which is now maintained by nearby Gethsemane Cemetery in Federal Way.

5. Bostwick Building

756 Broadway, Tacoma, WA 98402

Dublin-born Rossell G. O’Brien was a former mayor and city council member in Olympia—and, for better or worse, he may be a huge reason why it’s custom to stand during the national anthem.

The story goes that at a meeting of former Union officers at the Bostwick Building in Tacoma in 1893, O’Brien made a motion that "people should rise and remove their hats, if they were not in the military, and stand at attention for the playing of the national anthem."

Some say O’Brien isn’t the first to come up with this—Daniel Webster is credited for popularizing the practice, too. But regardless, a local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter installed a plaque on the Bostwick Building, which is now apartments and the Bostwick Cafe, commemorating O’Brien’s motion in 1970.

756 Broadway
Tacoma, WA 98402