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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

George M. Cohan, Irish-American Broadway Star, is Honored in Providence


George M. Cohan, Broadway song and dance man whose songs helped define the World War I generation, is honored in his home town of Providence RI with a statue, according to a story in Irish America Magazine.

The statue was created by noted sculptor Robert Shure, who also created the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston and Providence.

Cohan (1878-1942) was the son of Jeremiah Cohan from Boston and Nellie Costigan from Providence.  They met met on the vaudeville circuit and married in 1874.  George and his sister Josephine became part of a successful family troupe, named the Four Cohans, which traveled around the country on the minstrel circuit, performing a cabaret of songs, dances, jokes and comedy routines popular at the time.

In 1893 George settled in New York City and soon became the toast of Broadway, writing popular tunes like  Yankee Doodle Dandy, You're a Grand Old Flag, and Over There, a trio of songs that resonated with Americans during World War I.

For  more about the contributions of Irish contributions to American popular culture, see Irish Boston: A Lively  Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past.

For information on year round Irish cultural events in Massachusetts and the New England states, visit IrishMassachusetts.com  For more on Boston's Irish-American heritage, visit IrishHeritageTrail.com.