Dunbar Scout's Eagle project pays tribute to 'Irishtown'
In the mid-1800s, a large group of families of Irish descent built homes and formed tight communities high in the Dunbar Mountains in an area known by locals as “Irishtown.”
Atop a hill called “Hardy Hill” in Dunbar Township, one needs a good imagination to picture what was once a thriving mining community, because there is virtually no trace of it.
Not wanting the folklore of the “Irishtown” families to be lost over time, Boy Scout Zachary Martin, 18, of Dunbar Troop 180, decided to immortalize the families who once struggled as they worked deep into the hillside mining iron ore as his Eagle Scout project.
“I've lived up here almost all of my life, and I love these mountains,” Martin said, adding that he lives near the location owned by the Irishtown Sportsman Club that serves as a small picnic area atop the hill. “I was starting to notice how the area was getting defaced, and I wanted to do something to fix it.”
Martin, with the help of about 20 volunteers including Scouts and adults, worked at the site for several weeks, felling several hazardous trees, repairing horseshoe pits and erecting a large information plaque that tells of the history of the families of Irishtown and their stay atop the area in the mountains of Dunbar.
“It's an interesting story,” his father, Bob Martin, said of the 100 families who once called the quiet mountaintop location home. “The reason that you don't see anything here that shows that families were once here is because once the mine was done, they literally picked up their homes and moved down the mountain into Dunbar.”
Bob Martin was referring to the homes of the mining families that were constructed of log or clapboard.
Martin said that he enjoyed researching the project and remembers hearing stories told to him by his grandfather of the families of the area.
“I Googled a lot, and I got information from the Dunbar Historical Society,” Martin said.
Martin and his crew built a large informational sign out of donations of materials that he received from Lowe's in Uniontown and spent more than 340 hours on the project.
Martin received his Eagle Scout distinction at the recent 90-year celebration of the troop held in May.
His father serves as the leader for Troop 180 and received his Eagle Scout distinction in 1974, when the troop celebrated its 50-year anniversary.
“I think that it's really rewarding now when I see people stop here and walk around and take the time to read the plaque,” Martin said of his completed project. “This turned out better than I expected, and I want to thank my sister Monica for her help with the artwork and thank everyone else who helped me to make my project possible.”
Martin plans to remain in scouting and has recently signed up to be an assistant scoutmaster.
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.