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Showing posts from April, 2019

Irish Fiddle Master Kevin Burke Performs at Blackstone River Theatre on Saturday, April 27

Irish fiddle master Kevin Burke  performs at Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland, RI at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, 2019.  Tickets to the show are $18 in advanced or $20 at the door.  Call   401-725-9272 for reservations. A member of the famous Bothy Band in the 1970s, Burke was a founding member of two seminal traditional bands, Open House and Patrick Street in the 1980s.  Then in the 1990s Burke was a member of the legendary Celtic Fiddle Festival, performing around the world. Burke also enjoys a distinguished solo career as a fiddler, and has received numerous awards,  including Ireland’s Traditional Musician of the Year, 2016, and a National Heritage Fellowship, the USA's highest honor for excellence in the folk and traditional arts.  Read more about Kevin Burke here. Here is a schedule of upcoming concerts at Blackstone River Theatre , considered one of the finest traditional music venues in New England.  Find year-round details on Irish cultural events at

Tourism Ireland Unveils new Game of Thrones® Stained Glass to Commemorate Season 8

Tourism Ireland unveiled a  giant, stained glass window today (15 April) opposite Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland. The impressive installation is part of a brand new Game of Thrones® campaign – to showcase and celebrate Northern Ireland as Game of Thrones® Territory to millions of fans worldwide. This is the first of six installations to be unveiled over the coming weeks. Over the coming weeks – as each episode of the final season airs – six beautifully crafted, freestanding stained-glass windows will be installed across Belfast. Each window will highlight a key House from the show, with a series of panels depicting the most exciting and talked-about moments from the entire saga. The first window, unveiled today, is all about the House Stark.   Each window will be large enough for fans to pose in front of, for photos and selfies, so they can recreate their own Game of Thrones® photo opp. They can then share the photographs on social media and encourage their friends an

Abraham Lincoln Proclamation, April 15, 1861, and the Massachusetts Irish 9th Regiment

On  April 15, 1861 , three days after the attack on Ft. Sumter by the Confederate forces,  President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation seeking 75,000 volunteers to join the Union Army. In Boston, Massachusetts, Irishman  Thomas Cass  immediately began recruiting Irish immigrants to form the Massachusetts 9th regiment.  The volunteers came largely from Boston and the nearby towns of Salem, Milford, Marlboro and Stoughton. A total of 1,727 men enlisted.  The Irish volunteers encamped on Long Island in Boston Harbor through May, and on June 11 the Regiment was mustered into service. The 9th enjoyed a big send-off on J une 25, 1861 , when the troops made their way from Long Island to Long Wharf in Boston, then marched to Boston Common, where  Governor John Andrew  welcomed them and thanked the two commanders, Colonel Cass and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Guiney.  Governor Andrew presented them with flags of the United States and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the regiment was

Marathon Magic: John J. McDermott wins first Boston Marathon in 1897

The first Boston Marathon was held on April 19,1897, inspired by the first modern Olympic Games held the previous year in Athens, Greece. The race was sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association, and the initial field consisted of fifteen runners, of which ten finished the race. John J. McDermott of the Pastime Athletic Club of New York won the race, finishing in two hours, fifty-five minutes and ten seconds. Thomas E. Burke, who won first place in the 100 and 440 yard races at the Athens Olympics in 1896, was the official starter of the race. The race started in Ashland and finished at Irvington Oval near Copley Square in Boston, which had a 220 yard track. There BAA officials had organized an entire track and field meet in the spirit of the Olympic Games the previous year. Among the most talked about races was the 100 yard dash, which had a stellar field that included Tom Burke of Boston University, J.S. Quinn and W.J. Holland from Boston College, Frank Quinlan from Fordh

Marathon Magic: The Story of Bricklayer Bill Kennedy, winner of 1917 Boston Marathon

Bricklayer Bill: The Untold Story of the Workingman's Boston Marathon  The Boston Marathon is filled with iconic characters like John J. McDermott, who won the first contest in 1897, and Johnny Kelley , who finished the race 58 times.  Equally notable is "Bricklayer Bill" Kennedy, a working class Irish-American who was part of the amateur running caste in America before the sport turned professional.  Co-authors Patrick and Lawrence Kennedy have written Bricklayer Bill: The Untold Story of the Workingman's Boston Marathon.  It's an engaging, dramatic story about their famous ancestor,  with a Foreword by running legend Bill Rogers.  Bricklayer Bill won the 1917 Marathon, two weeks after the U.S. entered World War I. Boston Harbor was on full alert for German submarines lurking off shore.  Despite calls to cancel the race, Kennedy insisted on running, sporting a bright stars and stripes bandana on his head. He won the race and became an instant h

Marathon Magic: Tribute to Johnny Kelley, Legendary Boston Marathon Runner

For the 123 rd  annual  Boston Marathon  taking place on Monday, April 15, 2019, we pay tribute to the legendary marathon runner John Adelbert  Kelley, who holds the record for running more Boston Marathons than any other athlete.  Kelley was born in 1907 in West Medford, outside of Boston, and traces his ancestry to County Wexford.  "My father's people left to go to Australia," he told The Boston Globe in 1981, when he was preparing for his 50 th  race.  "The boat stopped in Boston and they never left."  Kelley ran his first marathons in 1928 and 1932 but did not finish either race.  He ran again in 1933 and then competed in every single race through 1992!  He finished in the top 10 eighteen times, taking first place in 1935 and again in 1945.  He owns the record for the most races started (61) and the most finished (58).  His best time was two hours and thirty minutes, posted in 1943.  He was 84 when he ran his last race in 1992, posting a time

Parnell Society of Dublin Honors Fannie Parnell at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge MA

On April 11, 2001, the Parnell Society of Dublin placed a granite marker at the grave site of Ms. Fanny Parnell at Mount Auburn Cemetery  in Cambridge,  honoring her role as a patriot and poet of Ireland.   The ceremony was led by Ireland’s ambassador to the United States Sean O hUuiginn , Irish government official Frank Murray and members of the Society. Fanny was known as the Patriot Poet, a determined Irish woman of strong-mind born into a famous family with Boston connections.   Fanny Parnell used her gifts of language and intellect to express the eloquence and fury of Irish unrest in the late 19 th century, and was the leading spokeswoman throughout the United States for the Ladies Land League.   Her sister Anna had founded Ladies Land League as an adjunct to the reform movement sweeping rural Ireland in the 1870s and1880s.   Their brother Charles Stewart Parnell, Ireland's great home rule leader in the latter half of the 19 th century, was in ja

Marathon Magic: Irish Patriot John B. O'Reilly helped found the Boston Athletic Association in 1887

Courtesy NY Public Library John Boyle O’Reilly  (1844-90),  Boston's popular  Irish patriot, poet, orator and spokesman for the downtrodden, was also a founder of the  Boston Athletic Association  (BAA).  In January, 1887, “at the suggestion of the late John Boyle O’Reilly, the first meeting was formed to consider…forming an athletic club in Boston,” wrote  The Boston Globe  in a March 9, 1912 story on the BAA’s 25th anniversary.  That initial meeting generated excitement and resolve to create an athletic organization, modeled on the popular New York Athletic Club, according to reports. A few months later, on May 9, 1887, the  General Court of Massachusetts  passed an act to incorporate the BAA, listing O’Reilly as an official, along with other leading Bostonians like Henry Parkman, George Morrison, George W. Beales, Francis L. Higginson, Richard D. Sears and Harrison G. Otis. The first meeting of the BAA took place on June 14, 1887 at the Boston Cadet Armory.  The

South Boston's James B. Connolly wins first medal in the modern Olympic Games in Athens, April 6, 1896

On April 6, 1896,  James Brendan Connolly  of South Boston became the first medalist in the modern Olympic Games when he won the triple jump on the opening day of the Games in Athens, Greece. He won the event - back then it was called the Hop, Skip and Jump - by jumping 44 ' 9 3/4", beating the second place finisher by nearly six feet.  After his final jump, the audience began chanting his name and yelling Nike, the Greek word for victory, according to Connolly's teammate, Ellery H. Clark. Connolly and his American teammates nearly missed their events - they arrived in Athens thinking they had twelve days to prepare, only to realize that the Greeks used the Julian Calendar, not the Gregorian Calendar, and his event was that afternoon.   Connolly later recounted the story in his autobiography:  Sea Borne: Thirty Years Avoyaging . Connolly also competed in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, and took second place in the Triple Jump.   Beverly Cronin   of the Boston