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Funeral service for remains in mass grave

March 10, 2012 at 6:56 PM

PHILADELPHIA, March 10 (UPI) -- The bodies of five of 57 Irish immigrant railroad workers buried in a mass grave in Philadelphia for 180 years have been given Catholic burials, officials said.

The 57 employees of railroad man Phillip Duffy stepped off the boat from Ireland in June 1832. Most of them died in a cholera epidemic in about eight weeks and researchers say some may have been killed in acts of anti-Irish violence.

Their bodies were secretly dumped in a mass grave that was excavated in an investigation called Duffy's Cut, which began in 2002.

The remains of five of those workers were laid to rest in pine coffins and given a Catholic funeral service at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, attended by more than 500 people, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Only five were included in the ceremony because the rest of the remains were too close to railroad tracks to be disturbed, researchers said.

William Watson, chairman of the history department at Immaculata University, led the project with his brother, the Rev. Frank Watson.

"It's absolutely a fulfillment of a dream that we had for the duration of this project to see that justice was done for these men and women," Watson said.

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