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Friday, May 16, 2014

Boston Holds Irish Famine Commemoration on Sunday, May 18

Irish-American leaders from Massachusetts and New England are gathering at the Boston Irish Famine Memorial in downtown Boston on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. to commemorate those who suffered in the 19th Irish Famine.

The event, organized by the Boston division of the Massachusetts Ancient Order of Hibernians, will include a prayer service and moment of silence.

The memorial was unveiled on June 28, 1998, as part of the 150th anniversary commemorations of An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger), which killed nearly one million Irish and sent nearly two million into exile.  Many  of them fled to Boston, transforming the city.  The project was headed by the late Tom Flatley.

The Irish Famine Memorial is along Boston's Irish Heritage Trail, a walking tour of Irish landmarks that convey over 300 years of Boston Irish history.

For information about year round Irish cultural activities in Massachusetts and the New England states, visit

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eileen Ivers, Gaelic Storm, Robbie O'Connell & Albannach Headline Irish & Scottish Festivals This Summer in New England

Kiana Weber from Gaelic Storm

The Boston Irish Tourism Association has released its 2014 schedule of outdoor festivals and concerts featuring Irish and Celtic music throughout the New England region.  The festival season runs from May through October and accentuates the region’s rich Irish, Scottish and Canadian traditions of music, dance and culture.

Kicking off this year’s schedule are three outdoor festivals at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, Massachusetts, in celebration of the group’s 25th anniversary.  The ICC’s festival on May 31 is devoted to sports and children’s activities; on June 6-7 is a weekend of music and entertainment, featuring top groups like Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul, Black 47, Dervi and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri.  Then on June 14 dancers from around New England will converge on the ICC for a feis, hosted by Harney Academy of Irish Dance, where they’ll compete in dance competitions throughout the day.
The 4th annual Summer Solstice Festival takes place on Saturday, June 21, at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland, RI.  The popular event is organized by the Blackstone River Theatre, a non-profit group promoting culture and the arts year round. Top performers in 2014 include Burning Bridget Cleary, Cantrip, Aoife Clancy, Eastern Medicine Singers, The Gnomes, Laurel Martin, Mark Roberts & Kieran Jordan, Robbie O’Connell and Pendragon.  With five stages, there’s continuous music, set dancing and ceili dancing throughout the day, as well as children’s area, vendors and food and craft vendors.

The 21st  annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival takes place on Saturday, July 19 at Look Park in Florence, MA, just next to Northampton. The festival features Albannach, Prydein, Charlie Zahm, the Cabeys and the Bell Family, as well as clan gatherings, Scottish games, food courts and vendors, spinning and weaving demonstrations and more traditional folk arts.

The 28th annual Lowell Folk Festival takes place in Lowell, MA on July 25-27 in downtown Lowell’s National Park.  Featuring six stages of traditional ethnic music, authentic crafts, ethnic foods and activities for children, this year’s Festival features Irish traditional band James Kelly, Donna Long & Sean Kean, along with various performers representing dozens of cultures.

On August 23, the 16th  annual Newport Celtic Rock Festival takes place at the Newport Yachting Center in downtown Newport, RI.  This festival features Gaelic Storm, Eileen Ivers, Black 47, Tarton Terrors, Celtica – Pipes Rock, the Fighting Jamesons and more.
On September 3-7, the 8th annual Quebec Celtic Festival takes place at the Morrin Center in Quebec City, Canada.  In addition to great Canadian Irish and Celtic bands, the festival also features Gaelic games, a parade and family activities throughout.

On September 19-21, the 39th annual New Hampshire Highland Games take place at Loon Mountain, NH.  Billed as the largest Scottish gathering in the northeast, the Highland Games includes continuous Scottish music and dancing, athletic games, bagpipe bands, arts and crafts and plenty of Scottish food and beverages, vendors, and family-activities.
 For details on other concerts and dances, theater and literary events, cultural activities and festivities year round, visit

To find out about Irish-American heritage and history in Boston, visit

Monday, May 12, 2014

Boston & Belfast, Entwined by History, Become Sister Cities

Boston and Belfast, two cities entwined historically by immigration, politics, business and culture, today become official partners in the prestigious Sister Cities program.  Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir signed the formal agreement at the Seaport Boston Hotel as a host of Irish-American business leaders and local officials looked on.

"Together, Boston and Belfast will strive to foster educational exchanges, promote cultural understanding, and stimulate economic development through our new Sister City relationship," said Walsh. "This formal agreement goes far beyond a declaration on ink on paper; it truly speaks to our historic connection, genuine ties, and deeply linked heritage."

Belfast and Boston share enduring links of history and heritage over many years and they will now provide the foundation for a new future-focused Sister City relationship between Boston and Belfast,” said  O Muilleoir.

According to the book, Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past (Globe Pequot Press), the Boston-Belfast connection dates back to the early 18th century, when thousands of Northern Irish Presbyterians who were seeking a new life in the New World came through Boston Harbor, starting in 1718.  They settled in the Bay State and created towns like Londonderry and Derry, New Hampshire; Belfast, Maine; and Charlemont and Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Sister City program was first instituted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, and Belfast becomes only the ninth international city that Boston has invited into the program. 

For more about Boston’s Irish community, visit

To find out more about Boston’s illustrious Irish history, visit