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Showing posts from 2018

Gaelic Scholar Dr. Douglas Hyde Speaks in Boston on December 3, 1905

Photo courtesy of Irish Traditional Music Archives  Dr. Douglas Hyde , President of the Gaelic League of Ireland and later the first President of Ireland, spoke at the Boston Theatre on Sunday, December 3, 1905. It was part of a seven month literary tour across the United States that had been organized by New York Irish-American John Quinn.   Hyde appeared in Boston on three occasions as part of this tour, before heading off to Chicago and the Mid-West and finally to the West Coast. Upon his arrival in Boston on December 2, Hyde talked about the Gaelic Revival Movement in Ireland and the purpose of his trip, according to a report in The Boston Globe .  “My visit to America is to gain the moral sympathy and support of the Irish as well as the American people,” he said.   “Let the Irish people in America read Irish history, use the Irish language, even if it were only at the table; pay occasional visits to any school of the Gaelic language schools that have fre

Boston Massacre Memorial was unveiled on Boston Common on November 14, 1888

One hundred and thirty years ago, on November 14, 1888, state and city officials unveiled the Boston Massacre Memorial on Tremont Street on Boston Common.  Among the guest speakers were Governor Oliver Ames , Mayor Hugh O'Brien and State Representative Julius Caesar Chappelle , an African-American leader who advocated for civil rights, voter registration and political participation. The sculptor was Robert Kraus, a German immigrant who attended the ceremony. The monument is made of Concord granite, 24 feet 4 inches high. Mayor O'Brien said, " I am aware that the monument to Crispus Attucks and his martyr associates has been the subject of more or less adverse criticism, and that by some they are looked upon as rioters, who deserved their fate.  I look upon it from a entirely different standpoint.  The Boston massacre was one of the most important and exciting events that preceded our revolution." One of the highlights of the ceremony was a poem written


  Photo (l-r) Front Row: Timothy Hurley, Patrick Houlihan, Timothy Driscoll.  Back Row: John J. O’Neill, Patrick Wallace, Patrick J. Gordan. The Gaelic Athletic Association's Boston chapter held its 3 rd annual ball and concert at Hibernian Hall in Roxbury on October 26, 1926.   Players on the hurling and football clubs were present.   Among the teams that were presented awards were the Wolf Tones  Hurling Club of South Boston and Erin ’s Own Hurling Club of Brighton. Two orchestras provided the music for both “modern and Gaelic dancing,” and an American-Irish vaudeville show was presented at intermission, according to The Boston Globe . For more about Boston's Irish community, visit . 

Aer Lingus Began its Boston-Ireland Direct Flight in October 1958

Sixty years ago this month, 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: "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 third of all residents. Most had never been to Ireland, and Aer Lingus, with its distinctive green shamrock logo on every plane, inspired them to make the journey, which took about 12 hours, twice as long as today's flights. "Four days after leaving Boston, St. Brendan (the airplane, not the monk) returned in tow with Irish dignitaries such as Dublin mayor Robert Briscoe and Sean Lemass,

New England Council presents New Englander of the Year Awards on October 11

The New England Council’s Annual Dinner is taking place on Thursday, October 11 at the Seaport Boston Hotel.   President & CEO James Brett will present “New Englander of the Year” awards to four prestigious recipients for their commitment and contributions in their fields of work, as well as their leadership and impact on the New England region’s quality of life and economy.  General Joseph F. Dunford Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Staff Sergeant (ret) Travis Mills, Army Veteran and Founder, Travis Mills Foundation The Honorable Niki Tsongas , U.S. House of Representatives   In addition, the popular Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes & Drums will perform.

William B. Yeats Visits Boston in 1911 to Promote Ireland's National Theatre

Irish poet William Butler Yeats was feted at a luncheon in  Boston  on October 6, 1911 by local literary and Irish leaders.  The luncheon hosted by the John Boyle O’Reilly Club and covered by The Boston Globe.    This was part of an American tour in fall 2011 to promote the Abbey Theatre , Ireland’s new national theatre.  The  Boston  visit included presentations of J.M. Synge’s plays, including the controversial Playboy of the Western World. During Yeats’ remarks, he paid special tribute to O’Reilly, saying in part: “I never met Boyle O’Reilly, but, as far as I can remember, the first poem of mine that was ever paid for appeared in the Boston Pilot under is editorship.  I don’t remember how I came to send my poems to him, but rumor used to come back to  Ireland  of his romantic and gallant personality and we all knew of his adventurous life.  Probably it was old John O’Leary, the Fenian, who got me to send them, for he had told me much of O’Reilly.” Regardi

Irish-Born US Naval Hero Commodore John Barry, Shipping out of Boston

Commodore John Barry   (March 25, 1745 – September 13, 1803) was a naval hero of the American Revolutionary War.  B orn in  Tacumshane, County Wexford in 1745, Barry emigrated to Philadelphia in 1760.  He joined the American forces at the outbreak of the war, and was the first Catholic appointed to command a vessel by the Continental Congress.  Barry's ship,  Lexington , was the first to capture a British vessel under the American flag. During much of the war, Barry commanded ships out of Boston Harbor, including the  Delaware  and the  Alliance . After the war,  President George Washington  assigned Barry to help create the United States Navy.    Barry settled in Philadelphia  and died there at age 59.  He is buried at St. Mary's Churchyard on S. Fourth Street. In 1949, Boston Mayor  James Michael Curley  spoke at the  Charitable Irish Society  annual dinner on March 17, and  vowed to build a memorial to Barry in 60 days, saying Barry had been ignored for too long. 

Boston's Maurice Tobin, U.S. Secretary of Labor under Harry S. Truman

Maurice Tobin and his wife Helen Photo Courtesy of Harry S. Truman Presidential Library This Labor Day, the Boston Irish Tourism Association pays tribute to Boston native Maurice Tobin (1901-53), who served as mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts before being named US Secretary of Labor by President Harry S. Truman. Born in Roxbury's Mission Hill, he was the son of immigrants from Clogheen, Tipperary. Tobin became Massachusetts' youngest state representative at age 25, and in 1937 made a surprise run for mayor against his mentor, James Michael Curley. Tobin defeated Curley in 1937 and again in 1941, serving through 1944. He then won the race for Governor of Massachusetts, and served as Governor from 1944-46. Governor Tobin advocated for the Fair Employment Practices Bill, and helped increase unemployment insurance and benefits for workers. He helped campaign for President Truman, who appointed Tobin as US Secretary of Labor from 1948 to 1953, where he c

Quincy Marketplace in Boston Opened on August 26, 1826

Courtesy of Digital Commonwealth On this day in 1826, Boston celebrated the grand opening of the Faneuil Hall, commonly known as QuincyMarketplace . Located on the site that had long served as Boston 's public market, the three massive buildings dominated the harbor and were hailed as a sign of the city's prosperity and civic pride, according to Mass Moments, published by Mass Humanities.  The project was propelled by Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy , who initially faced resistance from local merchants and citizens who thought the project too costly.  But Quincy prevailed, and the new market was quickly referred to as Quincy Market. Writes Mass Moments, "At the grand opening, crowds gathered to hear the bell that would signify the opening of what one local merchant called "the market of all markets on the globe." According to one newspaper, the new market "was thronged from morning till night, and many visitors from other parts of the Union e

John Boyle O'Reilly - Boston's Champion of the Downtrodden

John Boyle O'Reilly , the famous Irish rebel who lived in Boston from 1870 until his death, died suddenly at his home in Hull, Massachusetts on August 10, 1890. Born on June 28, 1844 in Dowth Castle along the River Boyne, O'Reilly was conscripted into the British Army as a young man.  He was later charged with sedition against the British Crown and sentenced to life imprisonment in an Australian penal colony.  O’Reilly made a daring escape aboard a New Bedford whaler,  Gazelle , in 1869, a feat that helped shape his legend by the time he landed in America.   Arriving in Boston in 1870, he spent the next 20 years reconciling the city's racial and ethnic factions who struggled against one another.  He became editor and then owner of  The Pilot ,  the leading Irish Catholic paper in America, using the paper as a bully pulpit to advance various causes.  He befriended the Yankee establishment while admonishing them for the prejudices.  He defended American Blacks

Rockport Music Presents Della Mae in Concert on August 15

Rockport Music presents the Nashville-based string band Della Mae at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.   Tickets are available online .  Since forming in Boston in 2009, Della Mae was named IBMA’s Emerging Artists of the Year in 2013, GRAMMY Nominees in 2014 for their debut album on Rounder Records, named among Rolling Stone’s “10 bands to watch for in 2015.” The band has traveled with the US State Department to over 18 countries spreading peace and understanding through music.  Here is a schedule of upcoming concerts at the Shalin Liu Performance Center .  For year round details on Irish, Celtic and folk music in New England, visit . 

Naval Hero Jeremiah O'Brien Honored At Massachusetts State House

Plaque to Jeremiah O'Brian at Massachusetts State House Jeremiah O'Brien (1744-1818) created the "first act of Colonial piracy" in the Revolutionary War, when he, his four brothers and townsmen led an attack on the British cutter Margaretta on June 12, 1775 at Machias , Maine , defeating the ship and taking its munitions as bounty.  Maine was part of the Massachusetts Colony until 1820.  The town of Machias had apparently put up a Liberty Pole in town after hearing about the battle of Lexington in April 1775.  When the Margaretta sailed into the harbor, the captain warned the townspeople that the pole must come down, or the ship would fire upon the town. The townspeople voted to leave the  pole intact, and to instead capture the Margaretta . Two American ships, the Unity and the Falmouth Packet , were dispatched to fight the battle.  According to author Charles Lucey, "Fighting was furious," with both sides "determined to conquer or

Greater Boston Feis, July 30, 1950, draws 15,000 spectators to Malden Stadium

Over 15,000 spectators attend the Greater Boston Feis at Malden Municipal Stadium in Malden , Massachusetts on Sunday, July 30, 1950.  It was part of a cultural rekindling of Irish traditions taking place in Ireland and Diaspora communities after World War II, and continued annually in greater Boston throughout the 1950s. The bilingual program book, printed in English and Irish, was organized by the Central Council of Irish County Clubs, Inc, with Richard J. Cardinal Cushing , Archbishop of Boston, listed as the event’s patron. Over 1,500 contestants participated in 72 different events, ranging from competitions in accordion, violin, harp, piano and Irish war pipes.   Among the winners were Joe Derrane of Roxbury, who won first for senior accordion solo, with Joseph Joyce of Jamaica Plain and Tom Senier of Dorchester tied for second place.   Paul Derrane, Joe’s younger brother, took first place for junior accordion solo and John F. Conroy of Dorchester won second in the

Mayor Walsh & Community Leaders Announce Restoration of Boston's Shaw Memorial

Boston Mayor  Martin Walsh  was joined today by the  National Park Service ,  Boston Parks & Recreation Department ,  Friends of the Public Garden  and  Museum of African American History  officials to formalize a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaboratively restore the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial, known as the Shaw Memorial. Located at the corner of Beacon and Park Streets, across from the Massachusetts State House, the memorial pays tribute to the 54th Black Regiment of soldiers who fought valiantly in the American Civil War.  This work captures the humanity, nobility and unfettered idealism of war in the depiction of the foot soldiers who fought for freedom from slavery.   Mayor Walsh called the memorial, “one of the most important pieces of art in the  United States of America  and we are deeply proud to have that piece here in the city of  Boston .  It reminds us of what is possible in our city when we live by our highest

On this Day: Boston Volunteer Firemen Attack Irish Funeral Procession in 1837

On June 11, 1837 a brawl erupted in downtown Boston when an Irish funeral procession and a volunteer fire brigade returning to the station reached an intersection at the same time.   In what became known as the Broad Street Riot , the firemen and their supporters chased the Irish along Purchase and Broad streets into their houses, which were then attacked by the enraged mob.   “The air was full of flying feathers and straw from the beds which had been ripped up and emptied into the streets,” according to historian J.B. Cullen .   Mayor Samuel A. Eliot ordered 800 National Lancers, a military group, to quell the riot and maintain peace. Excerpt from the book, Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past .

Thomas J. Flatley (1931-2008) In Memoriam

Tom Flatley , business leader, philanthropist, devout Catholic, and champion of people in need, was the chairman of the  Boston Irish Famine Memorial  committee, which was formed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Ireland's devastating famines in the 1840s.   The Memorial, created by sculptor   Robert Shure , was unveiled on June 28, 1998 before 7,000+ people.  A Commemorative Book  was issued on the day of the unveiling, with text from the eight commemorative plaques encircling the twin statues. As part of  Boston's Irish Heritage Trail , the Irish Famine Memorial continues to be a destination for visitors and residents who pass the park each year and stop to reflect on the story of the Irish and other immigrants who cross oceans and desserts to come here.   Mr. Flatley died ten years ago on May 17, 2008, but his vision, charity and faith continue to inspire people who knew him.   

Feis Ceol Agus Seanachas Held in Boston

Courtesy of Performing Arts Archive A Festival of Irish Minstrelsy, Song and History, known in Gaelic as Feis Ceol Agus Seanachas, was held at Hollis Street Theatre in Boston on May 6, 1900.   The festival was organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians , the Philo-Celtic Society of Boston and the Gaelic Society.   Among the highlights: a Gaelic version of “The Star Spangled Banner” by eminent Irish baritone William Ludwig . The Boston Globe described the festival thus: “the occasion will form a novel innovation, inasmuch as for the first time in Boston the ballads of chivalry, love and war, Gaelic folk songs, gems of Irish opera and other unusual features of Irish national music will be heard, as well as the more familiar harp and bagpipe music of Ireland.” Professor Fred Robinson , Gaelic scholar at Harvard University was cited as an enthusiast for the city’s Irish language movement. Ludwig, ‘whose lifework has been given to the interpretation of Irish

Fiddlers Scott Skinner and John Wiseman Compete in World's Old Fiddler Contest in Maine

John Wiseman (left) and Scott Skinner  Two of the top traditional fiddlers from the British Isles, 82 year old James Scott Skinner of Aberdeen, Scotland and 76 year old John Wiseman of Bantry, County Cork, crossed the Atlantic Ocean together to compete in the World's Old Fiddlers Contest, taking place April 5-10, 1926 in Lewiston, Maine.  Both arrived in Boston on the Cunard liner Caronia, and were greeted with enthusiasm by the Irish and Scottish communities, with fiddlers, pipers and dancers lined up to greet the ship as it docked. The contest was open to fiddlers from around the world aged 60 or older. More than 340 fiddlers competed for the $1,000 prize and Gold Cup.  Joining Skinner and Wiseman were other notable fiddlers, including Mellie Dunham, Chas E. McBride, 80 year old John Wilder of Vermont and uncle of President Calvin Coolidge, and local favorite "Uncle John" McKenney of Lewiston. The contest was broken out into categories such as Irish Night,  S

Massachusetts Senate Adopts Resolution for Independent Ireland, March 19, 1918

On March 19, 1918, the Massachusetts Senate adopted resolutions offered by Representative John L. Donovan of Boston : Resolved . That the General Court of Massachusetts hereby requests that the Congress of the United States, if it shall be deemed expedient, shall recommend that the right of Ireland to be a free and Independent country be considered at any peace conference which may   be held at the termination of the present war; and be it further Resolved . That copies of these resolutions be sent by the secretary of the Commonwealth to the presiding officers of both branches of Congress and to each Senator and Representative in Congress from This Commonwealth. The resolution was submitted to the Congressional Record by Congressmen James A. Galvin, Peter F. Tague and George H. Tinkham and by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge on April 3, 1918.

International Women's Day - Boston's Mary Boyle O’Reilly

Mary Boyle O’Reilly (1873-1939) was a social activist and reformer whose passion was protecting children and young women.  The daughter of Irish leader John Boyle O’Reilly , she was born and raised in Charlestown , and also lived in Jamaica Plain. In 1901 O’Reilly and others established the Guild of St. Elizabeth, a Catholic settlement home for Children in Boston ’s South End.  From 1907-1911 she was Massachusetts Prison Commissioner, and also a trustee of Boston ’s  Children’s Institutions. O’Reilly also used her writing to create change.  In 1910, disguised as a mill worker, she exposed the notorious ‘baby farms’ in New Hampshire . In 1913 she became a foreign correspondent for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, reporting from Mexico and Russia , and heading up the London Office.  When World War I erupted, she entered Belgium disguised as a peasant to cover the action.  The Germans briefly imprisoned her and three other journalists, and upon her release she ret

Boston Massacre Occured on March 5, 1770, Marking Severance of the British Empire

The Boston Massacre Monument Tremont Street on the Boston Common Near the Visitors Information Center and Parkman Bandstand MBTA: Red Line to Park Street Station Irishman Patrick Carr was one of five people shot to death in front of the Old State House on State Street on March 5, 1870 after a scuffle between colonists and British solders erupted into gunfire.   The Boston Massacre, as it became known, was the flash point for the American Revolution.   Daniel Webster said it marked "the severance of the British Empire " in the minds of the American colonists. Little is known of Carr, except that he was an Irish immigrant in Boston and likely a Roman Catholic.   Because he was Irish, he was alleged to have been a "mob expert" by prosecutor Samuel Adams during the trial of the British soldiers who opened fire.   Ironically the soldiers were part of an Irish regiment from Dublin , led by Captain Thomas Preston, an office of the 29 t

Boston City Leaders Meet at Faneuil Hall Regarding the Famine Crisis in Ireland, February 18, 1847

"When the full extent of Ireland's potato crop failure became known in Boston, both the Irish and the Yankee Community spring into action.  On February 7, 1847 Bishop John Fitzpatrick gave an emotionally-charged sermon from the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Parish priests followed suit.  By the end of the month the Boston Archdiocese had raised $20,000 for Ireland.  Workmen were sending in $5 bills and school children were giving over their paltry savings for this urgent desperate cause. "On February 18, 1847, Boston 's city officials and business leaders held a meeting at Faneuil Hall to discuss the growing crisis of the famine in Ireland .  Over 4,000 people attended. "Harvard President Edward Everett and Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy, Jr ., along with the city's leading merchants, made a passionate appeal to aid the starving people of Ireland .  They formed the New England Relief Committee, which raised more than $150,000 in thr

January 5, 1885, Hugh O'Brien becomes first Irish-born Mayor of Boston

On Monday, January 5, 1885,  Hugh O'Brien  was sworn-in as the city of Boston's first Irish-born Mayor, launching an era of Irish-American dominance of  Boston City Hall  that continued through the 20th century. O'Brien was born in Ireland on July 13, 1827, and emigrated with his family to Boston in 1832 when he was five years old.  He was educated in a public school in the Fort Hill neighborhood, and when he was 12 he joined the  Boston Courier  newspaper as an apprentice.  By the age of 15 he had become foreman of a printing office, before starting his own publication, the  Shipping and Commercial List .  He had a successful career as a businessman and gained the respect of city leaders as well as the Irish immigrant community that struggled to gain a foothold in Boston.  O'Brien launched his political career in 1875 on the Board of Alderman, and in 1884 ran against and defeated incumbent Boston Mayor Augustus Martin.  At that time, the term of office was one year