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Showing posts from 2017

Scottish Bagpipers and Irish Uilleann Pipers in Boston, 1954

Piper Patsy Brown A Boston Globe feature story called "Mystery of the Bagpipes" by Virginia Bright , published on January 3, 1954, gives insight into greater Boston's Irish and Scottish musical environment during that decade. The first part of the story focuses on the challenge of organizing Scottish pipe bands in the region, finding the right instruments and practice sets, not to mention the bass drums and kilts.   Frederick Colvin of Burlington, formerly of Belfast, conveyed his efforts to start a band.  It took him a year to find an instructor, Archibald MacLeod of Malden, pipe major for the Caledonian Band.  Scottish-American activities were on the decline in 1950s Boston.  The Boston Caledonian Club, in existence since the 1850s, held its last Highland Games Festival in 1956, according to writer Emily Ann Donaldson in her book, The Scottish Highland Games in America.     The Globe story then turns to what it calls 'the Irish bagpipes, or 'Ui

Eamon DeValera's Christmas Greeting to the Irish in 1937

  Eighty years ago, Eamon DeValera, President of the  Irish Free State , gave a special radio broadcast on CBS radio on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1937. The five minute speech, which ended in a Gaelic blessing, came at a time when a new  Constitution of Ireland  was officially enacted on December 29, five days after DeValera’s address.   “We are in a position to shape our Nation’s destiny. We will establish a new order, make life here more noble and happy," DeValera said to his listeners.  "However we need to plan wisely.  Our new life cannot be the work of a day; we must build from the right foundation." DeValera saw the new Constitution as a forward-looking document that future generations would value.  “Children and youth of Ireland you are on the threshold of a new era.  Opportunities now are yours.  The tradition of a free Ireland has been handed down to you.  You must give it life through fidelity and devotion.” The 1937 Constitution replaced the 192

Maude Gonne, Ireland's Joan of Arc, Lectured in Massachusetts in December 1897

One hundred and twenty years ago this week, Maude Gonne, known in the media as "Ireland's Joan of Arc," passed through Boston on December 18, 1897 on her way to Lynn, Massachusetts, where she spoke before an overflow audience of Irish supporters at Lynn Theatre. She arrived in Boston at Park Square Station from New York City, and was met by local Irish leaders, according to The Boston Globe, which described her as "a tall and stately beauty, and about the last person in the world one would pick out for a martyr to a cause which has produced in the past so many martyrs." When asked by local reporters if she expected to accomplish much on the visit, Gonne replied, "Yes, indeed.  It has stimulated me.  I find that Irishmen succeed in every land except their own, and the reason they don't succeed there is that England's tyranny will not permit it." Asked if she believed in absolute freedom for Ireland, she replied, "Absolute.  Ireland

A Christmas Celtic Sojourn - See Shows for Free in Worcester & Boston

Natalie Haas A Christmas Celtic Sojourn with Brian O’Donovan sparkles with masterful music, spellbinding stories and dazzling dancing. It evokes emotions of Christmas memories that stretch back generations. It inspires audiences throughout New England to embrace tradition, spirituality and community. The Boston Irish Tourism Association is a free pair of tickets for the Hanover Theatre show in Worcester on Monday, December 18, and for the Cutler Majestic Theatre show in Boston on Thursday, December 21, 2017. Enter to Win Tickets here  and follow the directions.  Or, you can purchase tickets online now to these or other shows, to ensure you get to see one of the magical shows this Christmas holiday. Read profile of Brian O'Donovan here. Find year round details on Irish cultural activities in New England by visiting .

Timothy Deacy, Irish Patriot and Leading Citizen of Lawrence, MA

Timothy Deacy (1839-1880) , Civil War soldier, Irish rebel and politician, died on December 10, 1880 in Lawrence , MA .  Deacy emigrated with his family from Clontakilty,  County   Cork  to  Massachusetts  in 1847 to escape the Irish Famine.  The family settled in Lawrence 35 miles north of Boston, the nation's first planned industrial city where immigrants and Yankees worked long hours in mills and factories. The Deacy family had long been involved in Irish political insurrections, starting with the United Irishmen Uprising of 1798. In  Lawrence , Timothy and his younger brother Cornelius joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, formed in 1858 as a physical force movement to oust  Britain  from  Ireland .  When the Civil War started, they enlisted in the 9th  Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1861.  Both brothers were wounded in May 1864, but continued to fight with their unit. After the war, Deacy and 300 veterans went to  Ireland  in 1865 to train Irish sold

1917 Sinn Fein Convention - Delegates United on Independence

"Those who looked for a lot of verbal fireworks" at the recent Sinn Fein convention in Dublin "must have been disappointed," according to a  Boston Globe  story by James T. Sullivan on November 18, 1917. "Moderation prevailed, but the delegates insisted on letting the world know they were firm upon the platform of independence," wrote the Globe. Eamon deValera was elected President of Sinn Fein, and gave the principle address: "We are asserting to the world that  Ireland  is a Nation, and  Ireland  has never yet agreed to become a subject Nation or part of the  British Empire .  The people of Ireland were kept from expressing that view simply by the naked sword of England, but England pretended that it was not by the sword, but by the goodwill of the people of Ireland that she was there, which was false.   Ireland ’s aim was freedom. “Those men (who fought for  Ireland ) felt they were morally justified in doing that.  They said what the

James Michael Curley Died on November 12, 1958

Photo Courtesy of Jamaica Plain Historical Society   James Michael Curley , the larger-than-life political figure who dominated Boston and Massachusetts politics for half a century, died on November 12, 1958, fifty-nine years ago today.   Over 100,000 people passed by his coffin at the Hall of Flags in the Massachusetts State House, according to a story in The Boston Globe .  “The rich and the humble, Democrats and Republicans, bared the depth of their tribune in whispered prayers and unrestrained tears,” wrote the Globe . Then a final process drove Curley's body through the streets of Boston and then to Holy Cross Cathedral in the South End, where his son, Reverend Francis S. Curley, S.J., celebrated mass along with Richard Cardinal Cushing of South Boston .   Curley is buried the Old Calvary Cemetery in Boston .  Born on November 20, 1874 on Northampton Street in Roxbury, Curley's political career was unparalleled.  Curley served four four-yea


Seamus Heaney & Robert Frost This essay appeared in The Boston Globe, October 25, 2002 By Michael Quinlin Robert Frost would appreciate knowing that the road less traveled leads to Lawrence , which is where Ireland 's esteemed poet Seamus Heaney plans to read tomorrow evening. Frost, New England 's favorite poet, spent his formative years in this industrial city, where he got his education, worked in a woolen mill, and learned to chisel the emotions, thoughts, and words of New Englanders into a poetic form as beautiful and enduring as the landscape. When he died in 1963 at 89, Frost had written nine books of poetry, four of them winning Pulitzer Prizes. He received the Congressional Medal from John F. Kennedy, and was the first poet invited to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, a magnificent gesture from a president "not afraid of grace and beauty." Frost's preference for Yankee individualism in lieu of the homogeneity of

Irish Tenor John McCormack Sings Before 4,000 at Boston Opera House in 1917

Courtesy of Boston College Irish Music Archives On October 15, 1917, famed Irish tenor  John McCormack  sang at the Boston Opera House to a packed audience of 4,000 of his fans.  As always, McCormack played a wide-selection of music to embody his classical training and his native traditions. During the concert, he performed works by Handel, Schubert and Brahms, as well as classic Irish melodies such as  Mother Machree , co-written by   Chauncey Olcott and Ernest Ball  and Sweet Kitty Malone by Hugh Dunbar Hargrave .  McCormack's final encore was the hit song, I Hear You Calling Me by Harold Harford and Charles Marshall.     The   Irish Music Collection   at Boston College's John J. Burns Library has an important collection of materials about John McCormack.  And the   Archival Collection  at Boston Symphony Hall has  programs from McCormack's concerts between 1911 and 1936, plus various newspaper clippings. Read more about John McCormack in  Irish Bos

Irish Poet W.B. Yeats in Boston in September 1911 to Discuss the Irish National Theatre

Portrait of W.B. Yeats by John S. Sargent, 1908 Courtesy of  John J. Burns Library  at Boston College    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 touring the  United States  to introduce a new literary movement  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.C. Murray, and Hyacinth Halvey by Lady Gregory   Yeats

Army & Navy Monument Unveiled on Boston Common on September 17, 1877

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia One hundred and forty years ago today, public officials, military leaders and the people of Boston unveiled the Army & Navy Monument at Flagstaff Hill on Boston Common to commemorate Massachusetts men and women who gave their lives during the Civil War.   The unveiling on September 17, 1877 also marked the 247th anniversary of the settlement of Boston in 1630. Over 100,000 spectators lined the streets of Boston as 25,429 veterans marched along a 6 1/2 mile route through the city and up to Flagstaff Hill.  "All nationalities, all colors and conditions of men were represented," reported the  New York Times .  "The Irish, Scotch, English, Portuguese and others were out in large numbers and carried the blood-stained flags under which they fought.  The colored men also turned out in large numbers and stepped as proudly to the strains of martial music as the men who had so enthusiastically take up the case which led t

President John F. Kennedy: A Boston Irish Story

President Kennedy’s thousand days in office marked an epoch in the Boston Irish story. One man stepping forth from a marginalized community that had struggled mightily for so many generations, facing hostility and surviving on the edge of society, driven to success by fear of hunger and anger at prejudice, determined to right the wrongs for the sake of the children and future generations. JFK was the future generation that his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had daydreamed about as they were toiling in America, saving their pennies, getting stronger, wiser, and warier. He may have represented the hopes and dreams of the world, and of a nation, but in essence JFK represented the pinnacle of immigrant dreams for millions of Irish around the world. 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 nationa

Mass Senate Members Honor St. Patrick's Day in a Meaningful Way

Senate President Stan Rosenberg Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and members of the senate presented a recitation of excerpts from native son President John F. Kennedy , presented in his City on a Hill speech, spoken on the eve of his inauguration as the 35th President of the United States, given at the House of Representatives Chamber. The recitation was created as part of the St. Patrick's Day festivites, and honors the centennial of President Kennedy's birthday of May 29, 1917, which is being celebrated this year by the John F. Kennedy Library and others throughout the Commonwealth. Find year round information on the Irish in Massachusetts at . 

Irish Piper Shaun O'Nolan Entertains Inmates at Charlestown Prison on March 15, 1918

A group of Irish musicians, storytellers and comedians entertained the inmates at Charlestown Prison on March 15, 1918, according to a story in The Boston Globe. Among the performers was uilleann piper Shaun O'Nolan (1871-1941), a recording artist on Columbia Records and a well-known piper in the Boston area for many years. "Shaun O'Nolan, the Wicklow Piper, kept his audience in laughter for a full half-hour with his fund of Irish stories, sogs, wreading and Irish bagpipe selections." Other acts include a piano solo by Mrs. A.W. McMunn, the St. James Auartet, a reading by C.A. Birmingham of John Boyle O'Reilly 's poem, "Bohemia," and a monologue by Miss Katherine Hanley. Humorist Billy Troy "sang a solo and told stories in Scotch, Italian and Irish dialects." Find more about Boston Irish history at .

Boston's Airport Named for Edward L. Logan, South Boston Leader with Galway Roots

Statue of General Edward L. Logan Boston ’s Logan InternationalAirport was named for General Edward L. Logan (1875-1939), a first generation Irish-American, military leader, civic leader and municipal judge with family roots in Galway and South Boston .  Logan was the son of Lawrence Logan and Catherine O'Connor from Ballygar, County Galway, according to historian Michael J. Cummings .  The Logan family lived on East Broadway in South Boston.   Read a full profile of Edward L. Logan on . The Logan statue is part of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail , a collection of public landmarks, memorials, buildings and statues that tell the story of the Boston Irish from the 1700s to the present.  Find year round information on Boston's Irish community at . 

The British Siege of Boston led to Evacuation Day, March 17, 1776

In October, 1768, the British sent 4,000 troops to Boston after local citizens objected to a series of British taxes on the populace.  This only led to increased tensions between British authority and colonial Boston.  That tension escalated and came to a head in April 1775 during the Battles of Lexington and Concord, followed by the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. General Henry Knox  played a key role in ending the British occupation of  Boston .   The 25 year old Bostonian hatched a plan to capture the cannons at Fort Ticonderoga in New York , wheel them 300 miles to   Boston .  His plan was to position the cannons atop Dorchester   Heights   in South Boston and aim them at the British fleet in   Boston   Harbor . General George Washington gave him the go-ahead, despite objections from his senior command, and Knox set off with a group of men and captured 59 canons in December, and dragged them across the frozen landscape of western  Massachusetts , finally arriving in

Role of the Irish in the famous Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770

Boston Massacre Memorial on Boston Common The Boston Massacre took place on March 6,1770,  and is said to have sparked the American Revolution.  The episode took place when British troops fired into a crowd of Bostonians; four people were killed and a fifth  victim died a few days later.  The shooting came after a tense week of acrimony between Bostonians and the British soldiers, 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 the Boston Massacre: . The soldiers involved were from the 29th British regiment, led by Captain Thomas Preston.  The regiment was mostly Irish soldiers who had been conscripted, often against their will.  The names of the 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 t