A Queens Street Renamed to Easter Rising Way

Local dignitaries and Irish figures gather for a photo with the renamed street sign, with Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams with the red scarf. (Photo from the office of Council member Elizabeth Crowley via Irish Central)

Local dignitaries and Irish figures gather for a photo with the renamed street sign, including Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams (wearing the red scarf). (Photo from the office of Council member Elizabeth Crowley via Irish Central)

More than 300 turned out on Nov. 12 in Maspeth, Queens, for the street renaming ceremony held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. In a story for Irish Central, Peter Lee reports that Step Street is now known as Easter Rising Way, in remembrance of the fight for Irish independence from the British.

The top of the street is one of the highest points in western Queens and takes in the Manhattan skyline and overlooks Calvary Cemetery, which is a burial ground for many Irish Americans. Within the grounds of this historic cemetery stands a monument for the famed Fighting 69th, as well a Fenian Monument for the Irish freedom fighters.

The United States played a key role in the years leading up to the Easter Rising. It was here in New York City that Tom Clarke, one of the leaders of Irish Rebellion, spent many years planning and raising funds for the revolution. Many of the funds were raised in Celtic Park, which is a short distance from Easter Rising Way and was as an important meeting place for “Irish fraternal, social and political organizations.”

According to Queens Ledger’s Benjamin Fang, the renaming is of a “municipal staircase” at 53rd Avenue and 64th Street, which leads to the point from which one can see Calvary Cemetery.

The story also provides further details on the significance of borough and the city in Irish-American history, as explained by historian Ian McGowan.

The rebels of Easter Rising also spent many formative years in New York City, including James Connolly, who was a labor leader before leading the Irish insurrection.

McGowan also noted that the majority of the funds for the rebellion came from the United States, especially Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Within the Empire State, most of those funds were raised on Celtic Park.

“Without our neighborhood, there may not have been a rising,” he said.

Gerry Adams, the president of Irish republican political party Sinn Féin and one of the key figures in the Northern Ireland peace process, “spoke about the appropriateness that one of the last events commemorating the anniversary of the Easter Rising was in New York City.”

“The bridge between Ireland and the policymakers has been historically and remains Irish America,” he said.

Not only did the leaders of the 1916 rebellion spend time in Queens, but the borough was also home to the children of those who suffered through the famine.

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