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Showing posts from September, 2014

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