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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Gaelic Scholar Dr. Douglas Hyde Speaks in Boston on December 3, 1905




Dr. Douglas Hyde, President of the Gaelic League of Ireland and later the first President of Ireland, spoke at the Boston Theatre on Sunday, December 3, 1905. It was part of a seven month literary tour across the United States that had been organized by New York Irish-American John Quinn.  Hyde appeared in Boston on three occasions as part of this tour, before heading off to Chicago and the Mid-West and finally to the West Coast.

Upon his arrival in Boston on December 2, Hyde talked about the Gaelic Revival Movement in Ireland and the purpose of his trip, according to a report in The Boston Globe

“My visit to America is to gain the moral sympathy and support of the Irish as well as the American people,” he said.  “Let the Irish people in America read Irish history, use the Irish language, even if it were only at the table; pay occasional visits to any school of the Gaelic language schools that have free classes, free textbooks and free tuition…By doing so we will greatly add to the success of the movement.”


The Boston Globe printed Dr. Hyde's Greeting to Irish Speakers in greater Boston 

At the Boston Theatre event, Fred Norris Robinson, Chair of CelticLanguages at Harvard University, presided as the moderator and introduced Dr. Hyde.  Admission was fifty cents, with reserved seats going for seventy-five cents and one dollar.  All proceeds went to the Gaelic Fund.

Hyde’s speech at the Theatre put the Irish language issue into a context having to do with politics, history and national self-identity.

“I am here to explain to you the life and death struggle upon which we are engaged. I see it said here by the more sympathetic of the papers that Ireland is engaged upon the last grand battle of the race for the preservation of its language.  O, gentlemen, gentlemen, it is more than that, ten times, one hundred times more than that. It is the last possible life and death struggle of the Irish race to preserve not their own language but their national identity.”

Ireland, Hyde said, “has lost all that they had - language, traditions, music, genius, and ideas.  Just when we should be starting to build up anew the Irish race to take its place among the nations of the world – we find ourselves as despoiled of the bricks of nationality.  The old bricks that lasted 1800 years are destroyed; we must now set to bake new ones.”

Part of the solution, Hyde believed, was to end British rule in Ireland. “To say that Ireland has not prospered under English rule is simply a truism; all the world admits it, England does not deny it. But the English retort is ready.  You have not prospered, they say, because you would not settle down contentedly, like the Scotch, and form part of the empire.” Despite this argument, Hyde continued, “We have now a great mass of public opinion in Ireland behind us….In one word, we mean to deanglicize Ireland.”

One of the sponsors of the visit was the Philo-Celtic Society of Boston, considered at that time to be the oldest Gaelic school in the world.  The Society was formed in 1873 by Irish speakers living in Boston and held free Irish language classes every Saturday afternoon in Boston and Roxbury Crossing. 

Read more about Dr. Hyde's visits to America in an essay by Ireland's Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall

For a biography, read Douglas Hyde: A Maker of Modern Ireland by Janet Egleson Dunleavy and Gareth W. Dunleavy. 

For information about studying Irish language in greater Boston today, visit Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston.  





Friday, November 16, 2018

Boston Massacre Memorial was unveiled on Boston Common on November 14, 1888



One hundred and thirty years ago, on November 14, 1888, state and city officials unveiled the Boston Massacre Memorial on Tremont Street on Boston Common.  Among the guest speakers were Governor Oliver Ames, Mayor Hugh O'Brien and State Representative Julius Caesar Chappelle, an African-American leader who advocated for civil rights, voter registration and political participation.

The sculptor was Robert Kraus, a German immigrant who attended the ceremony. The monument is made of Concord granite, 24 feet 4 inches high.

Mayor O'Brien said, " I am aware that the monument to Crispus Attucks and his martyr associates has been the subject of more or less adverse criticism, and that by some they are looked upon as rioters, who deserved their fate.  I look upon it from a entirely different standpoint.  The Boston massacre was one of the most important and exciting events that preceded our revolution."

One of the highlights of the ceremony was a poem written by Irish immigrant John Boyle O'Reilly, entitled Crispus Attucks, an African-American who was the first of the five martyrs killed by British soldiers on March 5, 1770, along with Irish sailor Patrick Carr and Boston residents Samuel Gray, James Caldwell and Sam Maverick.

O'Reilly's poem read in part:

And honor to Crispus Attucks, who was leader and voice that day;
The first to defy, and the first to die, with Maverick. Carr, and Gray.
Call it riot or revolution, his hand first clenched at the crown;
His feet were the first in perilous place to pull the king’s flag down;
His breast was the first one rent apart that liberty’s stream might flow;
For our freedom now and forever, his head was the first bid low.
Attucks was from Framingham; his father was an African slave and his mother was a native American Indian. 

The celebration that day began with a procession from the Massachusetts State House to the monument, then to Faneuil Hall for further speeches.  Later there was a banquet at the Parker House.

For more about  John Boyle O'Reilly and Boston's Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.

To learn about Black history in Boston, visit the maah.org/trail.htm


Saturday, October 20, 2018

GAELIC ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION HOLDS ITS THIRD ANNUAL BALL IN ROXBURY ON OCTOBER 26, 1926



 Photo (l-r) Front Row: Timothy Hurley, Patrick Houlihan, Timothy Driscoll.  Back Row: John J. O’Neill, Patrick Wallace, Patrick J. Gordan.

The Gaelic Athletic Association's Boston chapter held its 3rd annual ball and concert at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury on October 26, 1926.  Players on the hurling and football clubs were present. 

Among the teams that were presented awards were the Wolf Tones Hurling Club of South Boston and Erin’s Own Hurling Club of Brighton.

Two orchestras provided the music for both “modern and Gaelic dancing,” and an American-Irish vaudeville show was presented at intermission, according to The Boston Globe.

For more about Boston's Irish community, visit IrishBoston.org




Friday, October 19, 2018

Aer Lingus Began its Boston-Ireland Direct Flight in October 1958

Sixty years ago this month, Ireland's airlines, Aer Lingus, launched its Boston to Shannon air service on Sunday, October 5, 1958, ushering in a new era of travel between New England and Ireland.

A 2003 story in the Boston Business Journal by Michael Quinlin reports the following:


"Aer Lingus' entry into the Boston market carried a symbolic significance. TWA and Pan Am were already flying the Boston-Ireland route, but the arrival of Ireland's national airlines captured the imagination of the city's large Irish-American population, which accounted for nearly a third of all residents. Most had never been to Ireland, and Aer Lingus, with its distinctive green shamrock logo on every plane, inspired them to make the journey, which took about 12 hours, twice as long as today's flights.

"Four days after leaving Boston, St. Brendan (the airplane, not the monk) returned in tow with Irish dignitaries such as Dublin mayor Robert Briscoe and Sean Lemass, Ireland's commerce minister. The Irish got a chance to observe local tourist campaigns, which touted autumn leaves, seaside towns and historical sites.

"Lemass saw the potential bonanza of tapping into a vast Irish-American diaspora and developing a tourism infrastructure like New England's. He promised the Irish government that if it could provide "well-equipped hotels, properly developed holiday resorts, well-built tourist roads and easily accessible shrines of historic and religious significance, (tourism) would continue to grow.""


Ireland's tourism industry did continue to grow, and set new records for American visitors in recent years.   Ireland's Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe was in Boston in September and told audiences that, "In 2013, alone, one million US visitors spent $1 billion in the Irish economy.  This demonstrates the importance of further developing Irish market share of the US tourism market, which is a central policy agenda of the government."

For more information about traveling to Ireland, visit Ireland.com.

For more about the Irish community in Massachusetts, visit IrishMassachusetts.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New England Council presents New Englander of the Year Awards on October 11



The New England Council’s Annual Dinner is taking place on Thursday, October 11 at the Seaport Boston Hotel.  President & CEO James Brett will present “New Englander of the Year” awards to four prestigious recipients for their commitment and contributions in their fields of work, as well as their leadership and impact on the New England region’s quality of life and economy. 

  • General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Staff Sergeant (ret) Travis Mills, Army Veteran and Founder, Travis Mills Foundation
  • The Honorable Niki Tsongas, U.S. House of Representatives
 In addition, the popular Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes & Drums will perform.


Monday, October 8, 2018

William B. Yeats Visits Boston in 1911 to Promote Ireland's National Theatre





Irish poet William Butler Yeats was feted at a luncheon in Boston on October 6, 1911 by local literary and Irish leaders.  The luncheon hosted by the John Boyle O’Reilly Club and covered by The Boston Globe.   

This was part of an American tour in fall 2011 to promote the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s new national theatre.  The Boston visit included presentations of J.M. Synge’s plays, including the controversial Playboy of the Western World.

During Yeats’ remarks, he paid special tribute to O’Reilly, saying in part:

“I never met Boyle O’Reilly, but, as far as I can remember, the first poem of mine that was ever paid for appeared in the Boston Pilot under is editorship.  I don’t remember how I came to send my poems to him, but rumor used to come back to Ireland of his romantic and gallant personality and we all knew of his adventurous life.  Probably it was old John O’Leary, the Fenian, who got me to send them, for he had told me much of O’Reilly.”

Regarding Ireland’s cultural and political movements, Yeats said “the present intellectual movement in Ireland came immediately after the death of Parnell. When Parnell died there came political discouragement.  For nine years the disputes of the Irish part took the romance from public life.  Everything became individual.  There were no longer any generals; everybody had to do the best he could.”

Yeats said that now, “we are beginning to see the true lineaments of the national character again.  How harsh it can be, how gracious it can be.  The spirit of Goldsmith, the spirit of Swift has come back to us.”

Here is information about the W.B. Yeats collection at John J. Burns Library at Boston College.

In 1988, the W.B. Yeats Foundation was formed by Professor James Flannery at Emory University in Atlanta.

For details on cultural activities in greater Boston, visit IrishBoston.org.  For information on Boston's Irish heritage, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.





Monday, September 17, 2018

Boston's Patrick Collins - US Congressman, Boston Mayor, US Ambassador


 Patrick  A. Collins (1844-1905), the city's second Irish-born Mayor, died suddenly while on vacation at Hot Springs, VA, at 10:15 on September 14, 1905. The cause of death was acute gastritis, an ailment he had endured for some time.  His son Paul was at the bedside with him when he died.

His sudden death shocked Boston's political establishment and its residents, as well as the Irish-American community, because Collins was considered one of the city's great statesmen.

Born in 1844 in Ballinafauna, a townland outside of Fermoy, Cork, Collins came to Boston in March 1848, with his widowed mother, part of the mass exodus from Ireland due to the Irish Famine.  They settled in Chelsea, where the anti-Irish Know Nothing movement was fully blown in the 1850s.  Patrick got a job as an office boy with Robert Morris, an African-American lawyer, and later become a lawyer himself.  He entered into an upholstery apprenticeship, where he eventually became foreman.  All the while he was attending classes at Harvard University while studying at the Boston Public Library evenings. 

Collins made his first foray into American politics when he became a state representative from South Boston in 1868-69,and a state senator in 1870-71.  He became the first Irish Catholic elected as a US Congressman (1883-85).  He campaigned for President Grover Cleveland and was appointed as Consul General in London from 1893-97. 

As Mayor, Collins was praised for mastering the business of the city, and noted for his protection of historical Bostonspaces such as Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Old South Meeting House, and Old Granary and Copps Hill burying grounds.

Funds for a memorial were collected by public donations within a week of Collins' death, and the memorial was created by noted sculptors Henry and Theo Kitson.  The bronze memorial was unveiled in 1908, and contained a bust of Collins along with twin statues on each side depicting Erin and Columbia, representing Collins' native and adopted lands. 

The Boston Irish Heritage Trail includes the Memorial to Patrick Andrew Collins. It was originally sited at Charlesgate West, and in 1968 was moved to its present location  on Commonwealth Avenue Mall, between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets. 

Patrick Collins is buried at Holyhood Cemetery in West Roxbury.

Here is a list of Boston mayors of Irish descent

For more on Boston Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com, or read Irish Boston, published by Globe Pequot Press.   

For year round activities on the Boston Irish, visit IrishBoston.org

Friday, September 14, 2018

Irish-Born US Naval Hero Commodore John Barry, Shipping out of Boston


Commodore John Barry (March 25, 1745 – September 13, 1803) was a naval hero of the American Revolutionary War.  Born in  Tacumshane, County Wexford in 1745, Barry emigrated to Philadelphia in 1760.  He joined the American forces at the outbreak of the war, and was the first Catholic appointed to command a vessel by the Continental Congress.  Barry's ship, Lexington, was the first to capture a British vessel under the American flag.

During much of the war, Barry commanded ships out of Boston Harbor, including the Delaware and the Alliance. After the war, President George Washington assigned Barry to help create the United States Navy.   Barry settled in Philadelphia and died there at age 59.  He is buried at St. Mary's Churchyard on S. Fourth Street.

In 1949, Boston Mayor James Michael Curley spoke at the Charitable Irish Society annual dinner on March 17, and  vowed to build a memorial to Barry in 60 days, saying Barry had been ignored for too long.  The project got underway immediately, and the bronze memorial was actually unveiled seven months later, on October 16, 1949.



Then on April 5, 1975, some local college students stole the bronze plaque as a prank, and a stone version of the plaque was put in its place. Contrition set in a few years later and the students anonymously returned the plaque to the Massachusetts Ancient Order of Hibernians, who returned it to the city.  The original was put in storage at the L Street Bathhouse in South Boston.  On Saturday, September 12, 1981, the Barry memorial was transferred from the Boston Arts Commission to the National Parks Service for permanent display at the Charlestown Navy Yard, where it remains today.

Visitors can see the Commodore John Barry Memorial on Boston Common, located along Tremont Street between Lafayette Mall and the Visitor Information Center.  The plaque is part of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail,  a sequence of public landmarks that tell the illustrious story of the Irish in Boston from the 1700s to the present time.

President John F. Kennedy was a great admirer of Commodore Barry.  He owned John Barry's sword and displayed it in office at the White House.  In addition to sharing a love of the sea and sailing, both men traced their lineage to County Wexford.   When he visited Ireland in June 1963, President Kennedy placed a wreath at the John Barry Memorial in Wexford.

To find out more about Boston Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com or read Irish Boston, available from Globe Pequot Press and from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Boston's Maurice Tobin, U.S. Secretary of Labor under Harry S. Truman

Maurice Tobin and his wife Helen 

This Labor Day, the Boston Irish Tourism Association pays tribute to Boston native Maurice Tobin (1901-53), who served as mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts before being named US Secretary of Labor by President Harry S. Truman.

Born in Roxbury's Mission Hill,  he was the son of immigrants from Clogheen, Tipperary. 

Tobin became Massachusetts' youngest state representative at age 25, and in 1937 made a surprise run for mayor against his mentor, James Michael Curley. Tobin defeated Curley in 1937 and again in 1941, serving through 1944.  He then won the race for Governor of Massachusetts, and served as Governor from 1944-46.  Governor Tobin advocated for the Fair Employment Practices Bill, and helped increase unemployment insurance and benefits for workers.

He helped campaign for President Truman, who appointed Tobin as US Secretary of Labor from 1948 to 1953, where he continued to advocate on behalf of America's working people.

Tobin died of a heart attack in July 1953 and is buried at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline. 

Sculptor Emilius R. Ciampa created the Tobin Memorial Sculptor in 1958, which is at the Boston Esplanade, next to the Hatchshell.  In 1967, Massachusetts named the Mystic River Bridge the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial bridge in his honor.

Visit the Maurice Tobin statue on the Boston Irish Heritage Trail.

For more about Boston's colorful Irish history, read  Irish Boston, available from Globe Pequot Press and from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book stores.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Quincy Marketplace in Boston Opened on August 26, 1826


On this day in 1826, Boston celebrated the grand opening of the Faneuil Hall, commonly known as QuincyMarketplace. Located on the site that had long served as Boston's public market, the three massive buildings dominated the harbor and were hailed as a sign of the city's prosperity and civic pride, according to Mass Moments, published by Mass Humanities. 

The project was propelled by Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy, who initially faced resistance from local merchants and citizens who thought the project too costly.  But Quincy prevailed, and the new market was quickly referred to as Quincy Market.

Writes Mass Moments, "At the grand opening, crowds gathered to hear the bell that would signify the opening of what one local merchant called "the market of all markets on the globe." According to one newspaper, the new market "was thronged from morning till night, and many visitors from other parts of the Union expressed much gratification in witnessing the extent and arrangement of this noble institution.""

The Boston Traveller wrote, "Of all the projects for improving our city conceived by the combined wisdom of the present generation, the New Market, for boldness of design, energy of execution and promise of public benefit ust rank first  This spacious and magnificent structure (is) at once the pride and boast of the metropolis." 

Today, Quincy Market is one of the region's most popular tourist sites and is also popular with local residents.