by Michael P. Quinlin
The Boston Irish Heritage Trail includes the Memorial to Patrick Andrew Collins (1844-1905). He was born in Ballinafauna, a townland outside of Fermoy,
Cork, and 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
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
while studying at the Boston Public Library evenings. Harvard University
Collins made his first foray into American politics when he became a state representative from
in 1868-69,and a state senator in 1870-71. He became the first Irish
Congressman (1883-85). He campaigned for President
Grover Cleveland and was appointed as Consul General in London from
Collins was the second Irish-born person to become Mayor of Boston in 1902-05; Hugh O'Brien was the first. As Mayor, he was praised for mastering the business of the city, and noted for his protection of historical
Boston spaces such as
Boston Common, Faneuil Hall, Old South Meeting House, and Old Granary and Copps
Hill burying grounds.
Collins died suddenly while vacationing in
on September 14, 1905, and was taken back to Boston for a state funeral. Funds for
the memorial were collected by public donations within a week of Collins'
Henry and Theo Kitson unveiled the bronze memorial of Patrick Collins in 1908. In addition to the bust of Collins, twin statues on each side depict Erin and
representing Collins' native and adopted lands. It was originally sited at
Charlesgate West, and was moved to its present location in1968 on Commonwealth
Avenue Mall, between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets.
Patrick Collins is buried at Holyhood Cemetery in
For more on Boston Irish history, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com. For year round activities on the Boston Irish, visit IrishBoston.org.