Irish History in Salem, MA

To learn about Irish history in Salem, Massachusetts, visit the Phillips House for The Irish Experience on March 17.

During the early 20th century, the Phillips family employed a number of Irish servants at their home on Chestnut Street. Like many servants at the time, most of the servants the Phillipses hired were young, white, single females who were either immigrants themselves or first generation Americans.

By 1919, the Phillips House servant quarters were home to three Irish women and a couple of Irish men. The women lived in the servants’ quarters, located on the third floor of the family’s home, while the men lived off the property often with their own wives and families.

The women often took on roles within the home, sometimes caring for children as was the case for Catherine Shaughnessy who was a nursemaid to Stephen Phillips. As Stephen eventually moved out of the home to attend boarding school, Catherine, or “Catty,” continued to work for the Phillips family for 52 years as an assistant and maid.

Men at the Phillips House performed roles outside the home, as was the case for Patrick O’Hara who served as the family’s chauffeur. Patrick was responsible for not only driving the Phillips’ family vehicle but also for its care and upkeep.

In addition to special events like The Irish Experience, guests may tour the Phillips House between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday beginning May 1 and running through October 31. Tours begin every half hour with the last tour at 4:00 pm.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with live music, traditional corned beef dinners, and more throughout downtown Salem this Saturday, March 17. Click here to view a complete list of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day events.

 

Salem.org