The inscription tablet contains information about Annie and the six children who are buried with her. Inscribed are Annie’s full name, dates of birth/death, and a phrase acknowledging her historic connection to Ellis Island. The tablet is decorated with an Irish Harp and Shamrocks. Below this are the names and dates of the children, five of her own and one a child of a friend. A Gaelic phrase anchors the tablet which translates to: “May their Noble Souls Rest in Peace.” The inscriptions are rendered in Celtic-style fonts.
The primary element is a simple Celtic Cross encircled by elegant Celtic Knots with a traditional Trinity Knot in the center of the cross representing Annie’s Irish and Catholic heritage. The two vertical ends are adorned with cherry blossoms, symbols of Cherry Street where she lived and died in New York’s Lower East Side and representative of her new roots in America.
First Through Ellis Island – Jan 1, 1892
Each side of the tablet is adorned with a small symbol of her story, one from the past and one from the present. One side has an etching of the gold ten-dollar coin circa 1892 representing the coin that Annie was presented at Ellis Island. On the other side is etched the Annie Moore Memorial Project symbol with the dedication date.
On January 1, 1892, Annie Moore, a 17 year old girl from County Cork, Ireland, made headlines as the first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island. She is honored by statues on both sides of the Atlantic at Ellis Island National Monument, New York Harbor and at the Cobh Heritage Centre, County Cork, Ireland. She is cited in story, song and history books, and memorialized in dolls, collector’s plates and holiday ornaments. Her image will forever represent the millions who passed through Ellis Island in pursuit of the American dream, and is a symbol for immigrants of all nations that have contributed to the rich fabric of the United States.
On September 15, 2006, at a press conference held at the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, genealogist Megan Smolenyak, Smolenyak corrected history by sharing with the world the true identity of Annie and her descendants. Megan’s genealogical detective work was aided by Brian Andersson, Commission of Records for the City of New York, and Patricia Sommerstein, grand-niece of Annie Moore, who produced documents and information leading to the discovery of the real “Ellis Island” Annie and family.
The real Annie Moore lived a quiet and humble life in New York City’s Lower East Side. As a contemporary and neighbor of Alfred E. Smith, Annie was a resident of the 4th Ward, a rough-and-tumble tenement sea¬port area. Annie Moore also died quietly in New York City. At the press conference, it was also revealed to the world that Annie Moore’s remains lie in an unmarked grave in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York, just a few miles from Ellis Island, along with five of her young children, and a child of a friend. Her grave was small plot covered with grass and, for the moment, nothing else. Until today.
In 2007, the descendant families along with supporters from the Irish American community across the country and in Ireland launched the effort -- the Annie Moore Memorial Project – to create an appropriate marker for the gravesite that was lost to history for eight decades but is now found again. Annie’s story is symbolic of the American immigrant story. As one guidebook says: “Annie Moore came to America bearing little more than her dreams; she stayed to help build a country enriched by diversity.”
The monument design strives to express both the simplicity of the difficult real life of Annie Moore and at the same time honor the symbolic place that she holds in both Irish and American immigrant heritage and history.
The monument is constructed from Irish Blue Limestone carved by Ireland’s Master Carver Francis McCormack of Irish Natural Stone Products, Ltd. in County Clare, and imported by Irish Natural Stone, Inc. of Boston. Cardinal Edward Egan, Archdiocese of New York, granted a special waiver for the use of Irish Limestone in Calvary Cemetery due to the historic nature of this project.
Special Permission from the Archdiocese was granted to allow for the Irish Blue Limestone to be used for the memorial.