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Friday, May 28, 2010

JFK Library in Boston Hosts Forum by Newsweek Editors on President Obama: Year One

Newsweek editor and columnist Jonathan Alter discusses his new book, The Promise: President Obama Year One, with his colleague Eleanor Clift, on Tuesday, June 1, 2010.  The event takes place from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The event is free and open to the public.

The JFK Library Forums are a series of public affairs programs that foster public discussion on a diverse range of interests.   They are presented as conversations rather than lectures.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
Columbia Point
617 514-1600

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Boston Irish gather at the Irish Famine Memorial on Sunday, May 23 to commemorate An Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) is holding a wreath-laying ceremony at the Boston Irish Famine Memorial on Sunday, May 23, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. 

Father Peter Nolan, Pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Hyde Park, is conducting the prayer service, which pays tribute to the victims of the 19th century Irish Famine.

The event is organized by the James Michael Curley Division One of the AOH.

Attending the event are Kevin Durant, chairman of AOH Division One, as well as Michael Cummings and Phil Haughey of the Boston Irish Famine Memorial committee, the group that built the memorial park. 

Unveiled on June 28, 1998, the Boston Irish Famine Memorial is part of the worldwide commemoration of the Irish Famine of the 1840s, also known as An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger), where one million people died of starvation and disease and another two million refugees fled Ireland, coming to cities like Boston.

The Famine Memorial is part of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail, and is located at the corner of Washington and School Street in Downtown Boston.

For more information on the Irish community in Massachusetts, visit

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 16, 1847, USS Jamestown Returns to Boston After Historic Voyage to Cork to Aid Famine Victims

Painting of USS Jamestown in Boston Harbor, by Ted Walker, Marine Artist

On this day in history, the USS Jamestown returned to Boston Harbor after carrying food, medical supplies and clothing to the people of Cork during the height of the Irish Famine. 

The journey was headed by Captain Robert Bennet Forbes, a wealth China trade merchant from Milton, MA, who had left Boston on March 28, 1847 with a crew of 38 men and 800 tons of supplies.

Henry Lee's book, Massachusetts Helps to Ireland During the Great Famine, gives a masterful account of this extraordinary episode in Boston's history.

"Contributions of food continued to arrive from all over New England," Lee wrote.  "The cargo consisted largely of Indian corn and bread but included also hams, prok, oatmeal, potatoes, flour, rye, beans, rice, fish and sixteen barrels of clothing."

The fifteen day voyage faced foul weather and a blend of rain, sleet, wind and fog requisite for that time of year, but finally, they arrived in Queenstown Harbor.

A cruel irony became apparent to Forbes as Ireland's provincial rulers greeted Forbes and his crew with an invitation to a sumptuous feast.  Forbes and his crew found this banquet most embarassing, however, as Irish citizens lay dying in the streets nearby.

Forbes was more interested in seeing firsthand the suffering everyone had heard so much about.  He was escorted around Cork by Father Tehobald Mathew, the famous temperance priest.  Forbes later described the event:

"It was the valley of death and pestigence itself.  I would gladly forget, if I could, the scenes I witnessed."

Forbes was overwhelmed by the plight of the dying, and when he returned home, arriving in the Charlestown Navy Yard on May 16, he immediately set his sights on the USS Macedonian, another ship that he would fill with supplies for the people of Cork.

Reverend R.C. Waterson later wrote, "I consider the mission of the Jamestown as one of the grandest events in the history of our country.  A ship-of-war changed into an angel of mercy, departing on no errand of death, but with the bread of life to an unfortunate and perishing people."

- Excerpts from Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past  by Michael P. Quinlin.  

(Thanks to Ed Walker and Fred Robinson for permission to use the image above.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saw Doctors at House of Blues in Boston on May 15

Ireland's good time rock band, the Saw Doctors, are playing at the House of Blues in Boston on Saturday, May 15, at 7:00 p.m.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

The veteran band from Tuam, County Galway is joined at the House by Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

Tickets are $27.50 and available through Ticketmaster.

House of Blues
15 Lansdowne Street
1 888 693-2583

For year round Irish events in the Boston area, visit

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Conan O'Brien Joins the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Board of Directors

Conan O'Brien, TV talk show host and comedian, has been elected to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Board of Directors, along with these other new members: John B. Adams, Adrienne Arsht, Blake Jordan, Clive F. Palmer and Ronald L. Sargent.

O'Brien is originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, where President John F. Kennedy was born and raised, according to Tom McNaught, Deputy Director of the Foundation.  President Kennedy's birthplace is now a National Historic Site managed by the U.S. National Park Service.

The Foundation, which provides financial support, staffing and creative resources to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, presents the annual Profiles in Courage Award and works on numerous other educational and public service activities throughout the year. 

For more information, visit

Submitted by Boston Irish Tourism Association.