Unearthed: Voices of Leadville's Shanty Irish

Upcoming Exhibition

Unearthed: Voices of Leadville's Shanty Irish

During the late 1800s, what was once a small gold camp in the high mountains of Colorado became one of the most important Irish immigrant communities in the United States. Three-thousand Irish born residents came from other mining communities across North America and the British Isles, seeking work. They occupied the lowest rung on the social ladder, with nearly two thirds of the men working underground. Facing stark poverty and with few opportunities to improve their livelihoods, the Leadville Irish formed some of the strongest and most important labor unions in Colorado.

This is not an uplifting story, but we hold it up to the light as a way to demonstrate how first and second generation immigrant laborers fought for a dignified existence, a story which continues to this day. 


  • Available for purchase at the Healy House Museum & Dexter Cabin


We may not have the whole American flag, but we have earned a corner of it.

Michael Mooney, Irish-born Leadville Labor Leader