Oct. 11, 2021

S3E3: Jim Walsh & Damian Shiels - Unearthing Diaspora History

S3E3: Jim Walsh & Damian Shiels - Unearthing Diaspora History

How much of our history would remain buried if not for a few intrepid explorers of the past? 

In this episode we explore little known Irish diaspora stories buried in cemeteries over 1,300 miles apart in Colorado and Georgia.

Drawing on his research of an abandoned cemetery high in the Rocky Mountains, historian Prof. Jim Walsh tells the tale of the Irish miners who migrated to work hard and die young in Leadville, Colorado, the highest incorporated town in America. 

Archaeologist and historian Damian Shiels returns to Irish Stew to take us deeper into the saga of the Irish in America’s Civil War with stories of the thousands of the Irish in the Union Army forced into the Confederacy’s brutal Andersonville Prison and the hundreds who are confirmed buried there.

Damian honors these migrants through his online Andersonville Irish Project, while Jim is working to build the Leadville Irish Miners’ Memorial in hopes that their stories might continue. Both guests reveal the plight of migrants with few options in life doing their best to survive, themes that resonate still today.

Prof. James Walsh:

Doctor Damian Shiels:

Damian Shiels Profile Photo

Damian Shiels

Battlefield Archaeologist & Historian of the Irish in the American Civil War

Dr. Damian Shiels is the founder of Irish in the American Civil War in 2010, running the site as primary author and sole editor until 2021. He has published two books on the Irish experience of the conflict, The Irish in the American Civil War (History Press, 2014) and The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America (History Press, 2017). Damian has lectured and led tours in Ireland, Britain and the United States relating to the American Civil War. He holds a PhD in history from Northumbria University, where his research focused on the correspondence of Irish Americans in Union service. In addition to historical work, he has extensive expertise both as a conflict archaeologist and exhibition curator

Jim Walsh Profile Photo

Jim Walsh


James Walsh began teaching at CU Denver in 1998, moving to the Political Science Department in 2013. He specializes in Labor, Working Class and Immigration History/Politics, as well as U.S. Social Movements, Community Organizing, and Arts-Based Education. Walsh founded the Romero Theater Troupe in 2005, an all-volunteer "organic" theater troupe that specializes in telling and preserving stories about struggles for human rights and social justice for diverse audiences. Walsh uses theater and community-based learning in his classes.