mount calvary catholic cemetery
The Irish do themselves proud when it comes to burying people, leastwise here in Portland in Mt. Calvary Cemetery where there are so many Irish names you’d think you were in Boston. Newer sections of this 70 acre cemetery, unfortunately, are given over to flat stones, but the older, upright sections—including a few family mausoleums—under a canopy of mature trees are some of the best in the Portland area. One can get quite maudlin here, pick up a bit of a brogue, and start humming “Danny Boy” unconsciously under one’s breath.

Mount Calvary was begun by the Archdiocese of Portland because its east side cemetery, St. Mary’s, was full. Begun in 1858, St. Mary’s was located where Central Catholic High is now, across Stark St. from Lone Fir Cemetery. Remains were removed from St. Mary’s between 1930 and 1937, largely to Mount Calvary, which also maintains St. Joseph Cemetery (q.v.) in Gresham.

A contingent of 57 Civil War veterans, of which one Confederate, rests here, across the dale from the Sisters of Mercy of Portland—begun in 1898 by the Rev. Mother Joseph Lynch—laid out in neat rows with the latest entry from 1996. It also houses the remains of the first Portland police officer killed in the line of duty, one Thomas O’Connor, in 1867. The Irish have traditionally been a tough lot.

The Catholic are nothing, if not catholic. I’ve said that elsewhere, but it can’t be overemphasized; and their ability to suck up other religions whole makes them the English language of religions. Farther down Skyline Blvd. you’ll find Skyline Memorial Gardens, a more fundamental Christian cemetery, where one finds no breach of decorum or expressions of sentimentality, but Mt. Calvary hosts all manner of folk.

Directions:

333 SW Skyline Blvd., straddling the junction of Burnside, Skyline, and Barnes Rds.
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