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New Year's Eve Countdown in New York City Started by Patrick S. Gilmore in 1888

Patrick S. Gilmore , the famous 19th century musician and bandleader, started the annual tradition of the New Year's Eve countdown in New York City on December 31, 1888.    In those days, what is now  Times Square  was simply known as the Long Acre, and was changed to Times Square in 1904 when the New York Times opened its offices there. During this era the Gilmore Band - part of New York's 22nd Regiment -- was one of the nation's  most popular bands, performing indoor and outdoor concerts throughout the year.  Gilmore conducted many of the concerts nearby at Gilmore's Garden, which later became  Madison Square Garden .  On this particular New Year's eve, the  Gilmore Band performed for the large audience that gathered up and down Broadway, and then Gilmore led the crowd in a countdown, firing two pistols at the stroke of midnight.   According to Gilmore scholar Michael Cummings,  Gilmore  was born in Ballygar, County Galway in 1829, and emigrated to

Mayor Curley and 20,000 People attend Roxbury's Christmas Carnival, December 1914

Mayor James M. Curley Photo courtesy of Leslie Jones Collection, BPL "The opening night of Roxbury's first Christmas Carnival brought 20,000 people to the business district of that section of the city," reported The Boston Globe on December 15, 1914. Holly was stretched on tall flagpoles along Washington Street and Warren Street and on Dudley Street near the elevated stations.  Ferdinand's Store was covered with blue and white decorations and the Houghton & Dutton Store on Ruggles Street was transformed into a Yuletide picture illuminated with hundreds of lights, the story reported. The parade was the highlight of the event, in which Santa Claus "substituted a motor truck for his reindeer sleigh and a honking horn for his jingling bells," followed by a line of 90 automobiles.   Among the dignitaries behind Santa were Mayor James Michael Curley , City Councilor Alexander McGregor and Frank Ferdinand, president of the Board of Trade

Irish Connections to the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770

Irish sailor Patrick Carr was one of five people shot and killed by British troops on Monday, March 5, 1770, during a confrontation that became known as the Boston Massacre. The shooting came after a tense week of acrimony between Bostonians and the British, which included a fist fight in a local tavern, small skirmishes on the streets and taunting threats by both sides. There are several interesting Irish connections to this episode: . The 29th British regiment, led by Captain Thomas Preston, was mostly Irish soldiers who had been conscripted, often against their will.  The names of the British troops involved in the shooting were William Wemms, James Hartigan, William McCauley, Matthew Kilroy, William Warren, John Carroll and Hugh Montgomery. . It was Captain Preston who ordered his men to present arms to keep the crowd at bay, but the taunting continued.  Only years later was it revealed that the person who yelled out the fatal call to fire on the citizens was Montgomer

1200 People Attend Boston's First County Mayo Reunion in 1905

Nearly 1,200 Irish expatriates and Americans with ties to County Mayo gathered at Paine Hall in Boston on November 28, 1905. Organized by the newly formed Mayo Men's Benevolent Association, the event was so crowded that "at no time during the festivities was there room enough to accommodate those desiring to take part in the dances," according to a story in The Boston Globe the following day. A number of prominent guests attended, included Thomas O'Conannon, a leader of Ireland's Gaelic League, and James Michael Curley , then an Alderman for the City of Boston.  In addition, representatives from other county clubs in Boston attended, representing Galway, Cork, Waterford, Sligo, Limerick, Roscommon, Kilkenny,Clare and Kerry. Paine Memorial Hall, named after philosopher Thomas Paine, was located on Chandler Street in Boston's South End, and was used frequently by Irish organizations at that time. In 2008, Boston's Irish community celebrated the

Irish Storyteller Seumas McManus Speaks on "The Problem of Ireland" in Bangor, Maine

Donegal poet and storyteller  Seamus MacManus gave a lecture in Bangor, ME on November 2, 1914, regarding the Irish and World War I.  He told his audience that "a great majority of the Irish people were not in sympathy with England in the present war and that most of them hoped that England would be severely beaten," according to a report in The Boston Globe . Author of numerous books, including the popular The Story of the Irish Race , MacManus was considered a master storyteller in the old Irish tradition.  In 1900, The Boston Globe ran a six-part series of the author's stories and observations.   MacManus also lectured regularly in greater Boston, at places like Notre Dame Academy and Hibernian Hall in Roxbury and Boston College.  He was a frequent guest lecturer at Notre Dame University in Indiana. Find out more about Boston's Irish history at IrishHeritageTrail.com .

New Moving Picture Called "Ireland a Nation" Opens to Enthusiastic Crowds in Boston on October 19, 1914

Barry O'Brien as Robert Emmet   Ireland a Nation , described in The Boston Globe as  "The stirring story of Ireland's fight for freedom as a Nation since 1800" and told "in graphic motion pictures from the Old Land," made its debut at Boston's National Theatre on October 19, 1914. The black & white, silent film came in five reels, and starred Irish actor Barry O'Brien as Robert Emmet, along with other Irish actors and actresses of the day.   The film was written, directed and produced by WalterMacNamara , and issued in the USA on September 22, 1914.    Here is a full synopsis of Ireland a Nation on Trinity College's Irish Film and TV Research Online project.  "Large audiences, in which were included many prominent Irish-Americans of the city, enthusiastically greeted the pictures," the   Globe wrote.   Prior to the filming, the Emerald Quartet provided live music, and "moving pictures of Cardinal O'C

Chicago Uilleann Piper Charles Mack Performed "Come Back to Erin" at B.F. Keith's Theatre

The week of October 12, 1914 Chicago-born uilleann piper Charles Mack played at B.F. Keith’s Vaudeville Theatre in Boston with his musical revue, “Come Back to Erin. ”  He was joined by his co-star and wife Etta Bastedo, who was from Worcester , Massachusetts . Reviewing the show, The Boston Globe wrote that Etta “won favor in Celtic songs,” while Charles “contributed pleasing selections on a kind of bagpipe.” In an earlier 1912 review, the Globe said that Mack and company “give a fresh and wholesome sketch that combines pathos and Celtic humor most appealingly.” Mack was the son of Michael Charles McNurney, who emigrated from Ireland to Chicago in 1850.  McNurney and Sargeant James Early were pupils of uilleann piper James Quinn in Chicago .  Musicologist  Francis O’Neill, in his book Irish Minstrels and Musicians , described McNurney as “a wealthy horseshoer and alderman, who was himself an enthusiastic dilettante on the pipes.” McNurney's son Char

The Boston Celtics - Green Uniforms, Shamrocks and Lucky the Leprechaun

Many people wonder why the  Boston Celtics  wear shamrocks on their green uniforms and have a giant leprechaun smoking a pipe as their team logo. And why the team mascot is a guy named Lucky who looks like he stepped out of a box of Lucky Charms? According to the Boston Celtic’s official web site, the name came about in 1946 when owner Walter Brown started the team. He and his public relations guy, Howie McHugh, were throwing out potential nicknames, including the Whirlwinds, Unicorns and Olympics. It was Brown who had the epiphany, saying, “Wait, I’ve got it – the Celtics. The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York (1920s). And Boston is full of Irishman. We’ll put them in green uniforms and call them the Boston Celtics.” Red Auerbach , the now legendary coach of the early Celtics, then commissioned his brother Zang, a graphic designer in the newspaper business, to come up with the famous Celtics logo in the early 1950s. The logo ma

First Aer Lingus Flight from Boston to Ireland Took Place on October 5, 1958

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: "The inaugural flight that bright fall day was an Irish affair start to finish.  "Business leaders, journalists and travel agents with Irish names tagged along, prompting journalist Brendan Malin to peg Boston as "the American Dublin." Even Logan International Airport was named for Irish-American Edward J. Logan, a judge and general from South Boston whose father, Lawrence, had come from County Galway. "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

Irish AOH Commemorate the Brig St. John Calamity in Cohasset on October 5

A tragedy off the coast of Massachusetts that occurred 165 years ago this month is being remembered on  Sunday, October 5, 2014, by the  Ancient Order of Hibernians, Plymouth Div. 9 , The event commemorates the Brig  St. John , which  sank off the coast of Cohasset on October 6, 1849, while transporting 104 passengers and sixteen sailors from Galway to Boston.  The brig  encountered a nor'easter that pushed the boat south, forcing it to try to anchor near Minot Light.  Sunday's event begins at 1:00 p.m. with a Mass at  St. Anthony’s Church , 129 South Main Street in Cohasset.   Irish singer  Máirín  ÚiChéide is the soloist, and the  Boston Police Gaelic Column are performing prior to  the Mass and at the wreath laying ceremony  After the mass and reception in the church hall, participants will walk over to the  Cohasset Central Cemetery  for a brief wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of the large Celtic Cross.  The 20 foot Cross was erected in the cemetery 100 y

William Butler Yeats Speaks in Boston about Ireland's National Theater on September 28, 1911

Portrait of W.B. Yeats by John S. Sargent, 1908 Courtesy of John J. Burns Library at Boston College  On this day in history: Irish poet and playwright   William Butler Yeats   addressed an audience at the Plymouth Theatre in Boston on September 28, 1911 on the subject, "History of the Irish National Theatre and its Purposes." As managing director of Dublin 's   Abbey Theatre , Yeats was in the United States to introduce a new literary movement taking place in Ireland that he hoped would be "the awakening of the mind of Ireland ." The   Plymouth Theatre , located at Eliot Street (now Stuart) and Tremont Street , was a brand new playhouse, described as "a cozy, compact and home like-arrangement, with the seats in all parts of the house as near the stage as possible."  The Abbey players christened the new theatre with their productions.   The Irish plays on opening night included The Shadow of the Glenn by John M. Synge, Birthright by T

Patrick Gilmore's "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" First Performed in Boston on September 26, 1863

The classic war anthem, " When Johnny Comes Marching Home ," was first performed at Tremont Temple in Boston on Saturday, September 26, 1863 by  Patrick S. Gilmore  and his Orchestra.  Gilmore originally published the song - also known as the "Soldiers Return March" - under the pseudonym Louis Lambert for reasons unknown, but later acknowledged that he authored the piece.  The song appeared during the height of the American Civil War, and was meant as an optimistic tribute "dedicated to the Army and Navy of the Union."   Henry Tolman & Company of Boston was the publisher.  Gilmore expert  Michael Cummings  surmises that Gilmore took the song for an earlier Irish marching song called "Johnie I Hardly Knew Ye," which was apparently sung by Irish regiments fighting for the British in Ceylon in the early 19th century.  Cummings, who founded the  Patrick S. Gilmore Society   to preserve Gilmore's memory, notes that the song wasn&

Roxbury's John F. Collins, Mayor of Boston from 1960-1967

John Frederick Collins (1919-1995) served as Mayor of Boston for two terms, from 1960 to 1967.  Born in Roxbury, his father, Frederick “Skeets” Collins was a mechanic for the Boston Elevated Railway.  Collins attended Suffolk University and served in World War II, and after the war married Mary Patricia Cunniff. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1947, representing Jamaica Plain, Collins ran for City Council in 1955.  During that race, he and his four children were struck by the polio virus.  The children recovered, but Collins himself became paralyzed and never walked again.  He won the election and in 1959, when Mayor John B. Hynes announced he would not seek another term, Collins was a long-odds candidate against the popular John E. Powers, the state senate president from South Boston . Collin’s victory was considered a major upset, but it gave him the freedom to carry out his duties unfettered. “I owed them nothing and they owned me nothing, so we co

John B. Hynes, Boston Mayor in the 1950s

Mayor John B. Hynes Boston Globe reporter Andrew Ryan , who is covering Mayor Marty Walsh's trip to Ireland , has written in Monday's paper that another Boston mayor, also from Dorchester and with Galway roots, visited the old country back in 1953, according to Pat Hynes , a member of the Galway City Council. That was Mayor John B. Hynes , who served three terms as mayor, from 1950-1959.  Hynes left Logan International Airport for Shannon Airport in Ireland on October 15, 1953, the first leg of a trip that would also take him to France, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel, where he joined other U.S. Mayors on a fact finding visit. Once in Ireland, Mayor Hynes sent his own dispatch to the Boston Globe on October 16, describing his drive from Shannon to Dublin, traveling the 140 miles through Limerick, Tipperary and Kildare. He was joined by his wife Marion, three of his five children, and a coterie of city hall officials and friends. On October 17 h

AOH Unveils Celtic Cross in Worcester on September 18, 1977

AOH Ceremony at Celtic Cross, Easter 2010 To mark the 150th anniversary of the first permanent Irish Catholic settlement in Worcester , Massachusetts , the city's Irish-American community erected a Celtic Cross on  Worcester Common  on September 18, 1977. The 15 foot high memorial, weighing over 13,000 pounds made of Barre Vermont granite, was designed by  Joseph Calcagni .  It features patriotic, religious and family symbols pertinent to Worcester , America and Ireland . At the Celtic Cross unveiling, Thomas J. Early, Mayor of Worcester presided, along with Daniel F. Herlighy, chairman of the Irish Memorial Committee, and members of the  Ancient Order of Hibernians , especially from  Division 36 in Worcester .  Prior to the Irish Catholic settlement, Irish Presbyterians from Ulster settled in Worcester in 1718. When they initially arrived that summer, Boston leaders were afraid they would be a burden on the town, so they sent them to Casco Bay, Maine, Worcest

Boston Mayor Patrick A. Collins Dies Suddenly on September 14, 1905

On this day in history, 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. Collins was born in 1844 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 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, wh

Arthur Fiedler Conducts Boston Pops "Irish Night" on Esplanade in 1934

Arthur Fiedler, beloved conductor of the Boston Pops , held an Irish concert night at the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade on July 29, 1934.  Over 15,000 people attended, according to The Boston Globe . The Pops performed several popular Irish American songs of that era: The Harp that once through Tara's Halls , written by Thomas Moore and arranged by Victor Herbert in his famous Irish Rhapsody Suite ; the Londonderry Air , arranged by Sir Hamilton Harty; and Molly on the Shore by Percy Grainger. Other parts of the program included pieces by Brahms, Strauss and Tchaikovsky. Fiedler was Boston Pops conductor from 1930-1979, and helped widen the band's appeal by staging outdoor concerts on the Esplanade, including the famous Fourth of July concerts that continue today.  In that regard he was following in the illustrious footsteps of Patrick S. Gilmore , who began Boston's Independence Day concert tradition in 1854 with concerts on Boston Common. Because

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy - Beloved in Boston

She may be gone but she is certainly not forgotten.  Rose Kennedy Fitzgerald (1890-1995), who held the Kennedy family together through tragedy and triumph for much of the 20 th century, is permanently enshrined along Boston ’s waterfront. The mother of President John F. Kennedy , Rose was the daughter of Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, the wife of businessman Joseph P. Kennedy , the mother of nine children - including an American president, two more senators, an ambassador and a war hero - and the grandmother of 30 children.  A highly educated woman of zest and curiosity, she led a rich and eventful life, becoming a public figure on the world stage for much of the 20 th century, and relying upon her faith to get her through her later heartache.     In Boston , two public parks bear her name, and bear witness to the love and affection Bostonians had for her in her life and after she died. The Rose KennedyGarden , located on Atlantic Avenue , is not far from