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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Mass Senate Members Honor St. Patrick's Day in a Meaningful Way


Senate President Stan Rosenberg

Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and members of the senate presented a recitation of excerpts from native son President John F. Kennedy, presented in his City on a Hill speech, spoken on the eve of his inauguration as the 35th President of the United States, given at the House of Representatives Chamber.


The recitation was created as part of the St. Patrick's Day festivites, and honors the centennial of President Kennedy's birthday of May 29, 1917, which is being celebrated this year by the John F. Kennedy Library and others throughout the Commonwealth.

Find year round information on the Irish in Massachusetts at IrishMassachusetts.com

Irish Piper Shaun O'Nolan Entertains Inmates at Charlestown Prison on March 15, 1918


A group of Irish musicians, storytellers and comedians entertained the inmates at Charlestown Prison on March 15, 1918, according to a story in The Boston Globe.

Among the performers was uilleann piper Shaun O'Nolan (1871-1941), a recording artist on Columbia Records and a well-known piper in the Boston area for many years.

"Shaun O'Nolan, the Wicklow Piper, kept his audience in laughter for a full half-hour with his fund of Irish stories, sogs, wreading and Irish bagpipe selections."

Other acts include a piano solo by Mrs. A.W. McMunn, the St. James Auartet, a reading by C.A. Birmingham of John Boyle O'Reilly's poem, "Bohemia," and a monologue by Miss Katherine Hanley.

Humorist Billy Troy "sang a solo and told stories in Scotch, Italian and Irish dialects."

Find more about Boston Irish history at IrishHeritageTrail.com.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Boston's Airport Named for Edward L. Logan, South Boston Leader with Galway Roots


Boston’s Logan InternationalAirport was named for General Edward L. Logan (1875-1939), a first generation Irish-American, military leader, civic leader and municipal judge with family roots in Galway and South Boston

Logan was the son of Lawrence Logan and Catherine O'Connor from Ballygar, County Galway, according to historian Michael J. Cummings.  The Logan family lived on East Broadway in South Boston.  

Read a full profile of Edward L. Logan on IrishMassachusetts.com.

The Logan statue is part of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail, a collection of public landmarks, memorials, buildings and statues that tell the story of the Boston Irish from the 1700s to the present. 

Find year round information on Boston's Irish community at IrishBoston.org

The British Siege of Boston led to Evacuation Day, March 17, 1776


In October, 1768, the British sent 4,000 troops to Boston after local citizens objected to a series of British taxes on the populace.  This only led to increased tensions between British authority and colonial Boston.  That tension escalated and came to a head in April 1775 during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, followed by the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775.

General Henry Knox played a key role in ending the British occupation of Boston.  The 25 year old Bostonian hatched a plan to capture the cannons at Fort Ticonderoga in New York, wheel them 300 miles to Boston.  His plan was to position the cannons atop Dorchester Heights in South Boston and aim them at the British fleet in Boston Harbor.

General George Washington gave him the go-ahead, despite objections from his senior command, and Knox set off with a group of men and captured 59 canons in December, and dragged them across the frozen landscape of western Massachusetts, finally arriving in Cambridge on January 24.   On March 5, British General Howe saw the guns aiming down at his fleet, and by March 17, 1776, the British troops, along with their sympathizers, evacuated Boston.  George Washington later named Knox the first U.S. Secretary of War. 

Read the full story on Henry Knox in Mass Moments.

Knox’s father and uncles were original members of the Charitable Irish Society, formed in 1737 to help other Irish immigrants settle in Boston.  A bookseller by trade, Knox joined the Society in 1772, when he was 22 years old.  He also became a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Philadelphia.  Knox died in ThomastonMaine in 1806, where today the Henry Knox Museum is located.

For more about Boston Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Role of the Irish in the famous Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770


Boston Massacre Memorial on Boston Common

The Boston Massacre took place on March 6,1770,  and is said to have sparked the American Revolution.  The episode took place when British troops fired into a crowd of Bostonians; four people were killed and a fifth  victim died a few days later. The shooting came after a tense week of acrimony between Bostonians and the British soldiers, which included a fist fight in a local tavern, small skirmishes on the streets and taunting threats by both sides.

There are several interesting Irish connections to the Boston Massacre:

. The soldiers involved were from the 29th British regiment, led by Captain Thomas Preston.  The regiment was mostly Irish soldiers who had been conscripted, often against their will.  The names of the troops involved in the shooting were William Wemms, James Hartigan, William McCauley, Matthew Kilroy, William Warren, John Carroll and Hugh Montgomery.

. It was Captain Preston who ordered his men to present arms to keep the crowd at bay, but the taunting continued.  Only years later was it revealed that the person who yelled out the fatal call to fire on the citizens was Montgomery.

. Thirty-one year old Patrick Carr, an Irish sailor who had come out of a house on Court Street and was moving toward the ruckus with fellow sailor Charles Connor, was the last man to be shot. He lingered for a few days and was able to give dying testimony that ultimately exonerated the soldiers.  Carr and the other four victims are buried at the Old Granary Burying Ground

. As the trial of Preston and his men loomed, an anti-Catholic dimension emerged.  The Boston Gazette revealed that many of the soldiers the British sent to Boston were Irish Catholics, while the Providence Gazette suggested that Pope's Day, a virulent anti-Catholic event, should take place on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre so as to include Preston and the others in the effigy burning.

. The famous drawing of the Boston Massacre by engraver Paul Revere was actually done by 21 year old Henry Pelham, half brother of artist John Singleton Copley.  Their mother, Mary Singleton Copley, had emigrated to Boston from County Clare in Ireland in 1736.  Pelham was furious when he learned that his friend Revere had used his illustration without Pelham's permission.

. Over a century after the Massacre, in 1888, the Boston Massacre Memorial was unveiled on Boston Common, Irish-born poet John Boyle O'Reilly was selected to write and deliver a poem for the ceremony.  The memorial was created by sculptor Robert Krauss. 

The Bostonian Society at the Old State House has a full day of indoor activities on Saturday, March 4, 2017, to commemorate this historical event.  Due to the severe cold weather today, the outdoor reenactment of the shooting is not taking place.  

For more about Boston's Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com

This information is taken from Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Pastpublished by Globe Pequot Press  in 2013.