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Charlestown's Mary Murphy O'Reilly (1851-1897), Gifted Children's Writer and Columnist

  Mary Murphy (1851-1897), the wife of famous writer Irish John Boyle O’Reilly , was a gifted writer of children’s stories and a popular columnist in the late 19th century Murphy was born in Charlestown in 1851 to John Murphy of Fermanagh and Jane Smiley of Donegal.  She attended grammar school and high school in Charlestown. She began contributing children’s stories to the Young Crusader , a Catholic Magazine that published monthly from its offices on West Street, using the pen name Agnes Smiley, her grandmother’s maiden name. Murphy was also a contributor to The Boston Pilot weekly newspaper when John Boyle O’Reilly arrived in Boston in 1870. At that time, O’Reilly was famous in Irish circles as the man who had made a daring escape from a British penal colony in Australia and found his way to America. He would become one of the most influential writers, orators and change makers in late 19th century Boston. He had read one of her stories in the Young Crusader and inquired about he
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Boston's Catherine Crowley (1856-1920), Writer of Popular Children's Books and Historical Romance Novels

Mary Catherine Crowley was part of a generation of post-Famine Boston Irish and Irish-American women who rose to prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century.  She and numerous other young women writers were encouraged and first published in The Boston Pilot under editors John Boyle O’Reilly and Katharine Conway .  Born in Boston on November 28, 1856, her father’s family were prominent in the Catholic history of Boston; her grandfather, Daniel Crowley, was one of the early Catholic settlers in East Boston, and her father defended the local Catholic Church against an attack by a Know Nothing mob in 1854.  On her mother’s side, she was part of the famous Cameron family of Scotland, wrote James B. Cullen in The Story of the Irish in Boston . She attended the Notre Dame Academy, Roxbury and then the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville.  Early in her career, she used a pen name, Janet Grant, when submitting writing to The Boston Globe.   Crowley first gained recogniti

Boston Public Library Commission Proposes a Hibernica Room to House its Vast Irish Collections

  The Boston Public Library Centennial Commission considered a proposal in February 1954 to create a Hibernica Room at the Copley Square library, to house the vast amount of material on the history, social and economic development, biography, and literature of the Irish, particularly of the progress and achievement of persons of Irish birth and ancestry in America. The Boston Public Library Centennial Commission was formed in 1953 to reflect upon the library's first hundred years and to chart a course for the future, which included plans to increase the library's spending budget for new books and eventually to expand the library to accommodate the growing needs of its constituents. The proposal for a Hibernica Room was presented at a meeting at the library, according to a Boston Globe story. "The project was presented most persuasively by Paul E. Tierney, chairman of the Irish-American committee; Patrick F. McDonald, president of the Library trustees; Milton E. Lord, Libr

Boston Writer Mary Blake (1840-1907) of County Waterford, Published Poetry, Children's Books and Travelogues

Boston poet and Irish ex-pat Mary (McGrath) Blake died at her home in Boston on February 26, 1907 at age 67. The Boston Pilot wrote that she "was considered one of Boston's sweetest poets and combined a pleasing literary style with a gracious personality." Born in Dungarvan, County Waterford in 1840, she emigrated with her family to America in 1849 and settled in Quincy, Massachusetts. According to The Pilot , "she early on developed an aptitude for composition, while at the Quincy High School, Mr. Emerson's private school, and later at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Manhattanville, N. Y., her abilities in this direction were remarked. She taught for a time in the public schools of Quincy." In her teens she published poetry in The Boston Pilot and later in Boston Transcript and Boston Journal . Mary wrote commemorative poems about Wendall Phillips and the Sisters of Charity, and forceful poems in which she challenged anti-Irish sentiment in Boston,

Returning from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson is confronted by Suffragette and Irish Protests in Boston

President Wilson on deck of Coast Guard cutter Ossipee, approaching Commonwealth Pier in South Boston, February 24, 1919.    Photo courtesy of UMass/Amherst, University Archives . U.S. President Woodrow Wilson arrived in Boston, Massachusetts aboard the USS George Washington on February 24, 1919, with a series of parades and protests awaiting him.  The president was returning from the Paris Peace Conference in France, where he and other world leaders, generals, diplomats and government officials were trying to broker a post-World War I agreement that would stand the test of time.   At the heart of the conference, especially from the perspective of Ireland and the Irish Diaspora in the United States, was whether the talks would result in freedom and independence for small nations in Europe, including Ireland.  The day Wilson arrived in Boston, a two-day Irish Race Convention was just ending in Philadelphia.  More than 5,000 people attended the convention, discussing how best persuade Wi

Irish Art, Statues and Rare Artifacts at the Massachusetts State House, along Boston's Irish Heritage Trail

  The Massachusetts State House has a number of beautiful and rare works of art and artifacts relating to the Irish-American experience, and is a featured stop along  Boston's Irish Heritage Trail .   The incredible collection of art and artifacts is maintained and curated by the State House Art Commission .  Here is just a selection of items worth seeing the next time you visit the Massachusetts State House.  Irish Flags, 9th Irish Regiment The flags of the famous Massachusetts Fighting 9th Regiment, which fought in all of America's wars, from the Civil War to the Korean War, is in the Hall of Flags at the State House. Mustered into service on June 11, 1861, the regiment was headed by Colonel Thomas Cass (1821-62), an Irish immigrant who organized the Irish immigrant regiment following the Battle of Fort Sumter in April, 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to defend the Union. Today facsimiles of the flags are on display at

Boston Landmarks Depict Irish and Scots-Irish Heroics in the American Revolution

Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, as evidenced by the number of public landmarks that relate to their heroics and sacrifice. From Commodore John Barry and General John Sullivan to Boston Massacre victim Patrick Carr and the Scots-Irish who fought at Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights, the Irish were front and center during America's battle for independence.   The  Boston Irish Heritage Trail  gives a glimpse of the Revolutionary Irish through landmarks on Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, Granary Burying Ground and Bunker Hill Monument. Many of these landmarks intersect with  Boston's Freedom Trail,  which provides an important overview of Boston's instrumental role in the American Revolution.   Visit the  Boston Common Visitor Information Center  at 139 Tremont Street for a free map of the Irish Heritage Trail, and take a self-guided tour. Here are some Revolutionary landmarks with Irish connections.  Granary Buryi