The Old First Ward

Left to right: Florence (Patts) Tobin, Jimmy Patts, Leo Martin.

By Florence Tobin , Irish America Reader.
Submitted by Florence Tobin.

Photo Album: Family Pictures

These photos were taken [80] years ago in front of my grandfather’s house on Kentucky Street in Buffalo’s well-known “Old First Ward.”

This section, on the South Side of the city, is Buffalo’s little Ireland, and would relate to Leopold Bloom’s trip through the streets of Dublin.

Everyone on these streets is of Irish ancestry, and it is a world apart from the rest of the city. The streets have unique names – Mackinaw, Tennessee, Miami, Kentucky, Alabama, Hamburg and others. The parks all have Irish names – Father Conway Playground, for one – and the pubs are The Old Sod, Molly O’Brien’s, McCarthy’s, and others.

Life was simple and uncomplicated in those days in this great “Old First Ward.” Neighbors borrowed sugar and two dollars to hold them until payday. All the men worked on the boats, and doors were left unlocked at night.

These photos of me and my friends reflect the simplicity of the times, and the smiles on our faces tell a story of happiness at home, especially on this Holy Communion Day.

We were dressed, but the houses in the background do not depict wealth here. Irish America lives on here, in our hearts and in the surroundings.

– Florence Tobin, Buffalo, NY

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