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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Irish Connections of Fenway Park

Fenway Park - it’s as American as applepie and, well, baseball. The “lyrical little bandbox of a ballpark,” as local writer John Updike described it, is a national treasure, one of the few remaining ballparks to survive a century of wear and tear, heart ache and exultation.  

Fenway has a distinctive Irish tint over the past century too. Here are some Irish connections to this green masterpiece.


• Charles E. Logue, from Derry, Northern Ireland, was the contractor selected to build Fenway Park, breaking ground on September 25, 1911. James E. McLaughlin, born in Nova Scotia to Irish immigrant parents, was the architect.
• Groundskeeper Jerome Kelley took the infield sod from the old Huntington Ave ball park at the end of the 1911 season and placed the diamond in Fenway so it would be ready for opening day.


• On April 20, 1912, the Boston Red Sox played the New York Highlanders, later named the Yankees. 24,000 people attended. The game went to extra innings and the Sox won 7-6.
• Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, grandfather of John F. Kennedy, threw out the first ball to start the game, and a contingent of Royal Rooters fans, led by Michael “Nuf Ced” McGreevey, boisterously cheered the team on.
• Thomas “Bucky” O’Brien was the starting pitcher. Tommy Connolly was the umpire behind the plate. Legendary baseball writer Tim Murnane covered the story for the Globe.


• On June 29, 1919, Eamon deValera, President of the fledgling Irish Republic, addressed 60,000 people at Fenway, calling for an end to British rule in Ireland. Massachusetts Governor David I. Walsh introduced Dev.
• On May 28, 1922, Irish patriots Countess Constance Markievicz and Kathleen Barry spoke before 6,000 people.
• On June 11, 1934, 40,000 faithful turned out for an open-air mass in celebration of William Cardinal O’Connell’s Golden Jubilee. The Cavan All-Stars Football Team attended.


• On September 4, 1916, the Galway Men’s Association enjoyed a day of hurling matches and track and field events. 
• The Kerry Gaelic Football team played a Boston team at Fenway on May 30, 1927.
• On June 6, 1937, the Mayo All-Ireland Football Champions beat a Massachusetts team 17 to 8. Lt. Governor John Kelly threw in the ball to start the game.
On November 7, 1954 Cork’s All Ireland Hurling Team beat a Boston team 37 to 28, then a week later Mayo’s Gaelic Football team beat a local team 13 to 6. Globe reporter John Ahearn described hurling as a “combination of field hockey, lacrosse and mayhem.”


• On June 26, 1928, Irish Billy Murphy lost a close match against Portuguese champion Al Mello before 12,000 boxing fans.
• On June 12, 1932, Eddie “Kid” Sullivan, “the perpetual motion machine from Walpole,” fought Tony Acquaro of Lynn.
• On July 29, 1937, two heavyweights, Al McCoy and Jack McCarthy battled before 10,000 people.
• Danno O’Mahoney from Cork wrestled Jimmy the Greek Londos on June 2, 1935 before 30,000 people. O’Mahoney prevailed, then met his match on July 20, 1937, losing to fellow Irishman Steve Casey.


• Mayor James Michael Curley took Irish rebel Dan Breen to a Red Sox - Braves game on September 23, 1931.
• Television personality Ed Sullivan was master of ceremonies at Mayor John Hynes’ Charity Field Day on June 23, 1958.
• The Kennedy family attended a Memorial Game on April 17, 1964 in honor of their slain brother, President John F. Kennedy.
• Many Irish-Americans have sung the National Anthem at Fenway including police officers Dan Clark and Pauline Wells, and Irish-born tenor Ronan Tynan.
• The Dropkick Murphys have performed at Fenway numerous times, singing Tessie and Shippin Up to Boston.

Excerpt from Irish Boston, 2nd edition, by Michael Quinlin
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press / Publication Date: October, 2013 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

John F. Kennedy Elevated the Tone of National Life, Opened the White House to the Arts

"John F. Kennedy’s optimism and resolve was emblematic of the American mind of the twentieth century, but he also brought a new level of sophistication to public life. Louis M. Lyons wrote, “The elevation of the tone of the national life may be John Kennedy’s most enduring contribution to his country.” 

"Along with his beautiful, stylish wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, JFK brought a savoir faire to the White House and created a magical mood that later moved Jacqueline to use the word “Camelot” to refer to her husband’s presidency. Both the president and his wife were lovers of the arts, and they surrounded themselves with singers, poets, dramatists, artists, and dancers. In a well-deserved nod to the power of poetry, Kennedy invited New England poet Robert Frost to read at his inauguration. Frost later told Kennedy, “You’re something of Irish and something of Harvard. Let me advise you, be more Irish than Harvard.”

"On October 26, 1963, Kennedy gave a compelling address at Amherst College called “On Poetry and National Power,” in which he laid out a vision of American life to which the Irish, the politician, and the poet could relate.

"When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as a touchstone for our judgment. . . . I look forward to a great future for America—a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral strength, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose. I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty. . . . And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well."

Excerpt from Irish Boston, 2nd edition, by Michael Quinlin
Publisher: Globe Pequot Press / Publication Date: October,, 2013 

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Edition of IRISH BOSTON : A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past, from Globe Pequot Press

Globe Pequot Press is proud to announce the release of IRISH BOSTON, 2nd edition: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past (978-0-7627-8834-7; October, 2013; $18.95 paperback).

This new edition updates the illustrious story of the Boston Irish, from the 1700s to 2013, with new details on how Boston's Irish community has been affected by Ireland's Celtic Tiger; the death of Senator Ted Kennedy; and changing demographics in the city's distinctly Irish neighborhoods like South Boston and Charlestown.

At its core, IRISH BOSTON describes a remarkable 300-year journey, during which the Irish went from famine to fame and from poverty to power, guided by a cast of memorable characters who shaped Boston's history. Runaway servants and war heroes, poets and priests, Olympic champions and a U.S. president all play a part in this engaging narrative of how one immigrant group overcame the odds in pursuit of the American Dream.

From the days of "No Irish Need Apply" in the 1850s to the inauguration in 1960 of America's first Irish Catholic president, the Boston Irish have molded the history of the city and the nation. Full of courage and heroism, hardship and triumph, IRISH BOSTON captures the spirit of this distinctive ethnic community. 

Irish Boston is available at Globe Pequot PressAmazon, Barnes & Noble, Boston Irish Tourism Assn, Indie Bound, and fine bookstores everywhere.
About the Author

Michael Quinlin has published several books about the New England Irish, including Irish Boston (Globe Pequot Press) and Classic Irish Stories (Lyons Press). A founder of the Boston Irish Tourism Association, he created Boston's Irish Heritage Trail, a walking tour of historical landmarks in Boston's downtown and Back Bay.  He is a frequent contributor to Irish America Magazine and the Irish Echo.