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Showing posts from May, 2019

Massachusetts Bans Catholic Priests from Bay Colony in May, 1647

On May 26, 1647, the Massachusetts Bay General Court officially passed a law banning Jesuit Catholic priests from the Bay Colony. In part, the law was passed because Puritans insisted upon purifying themselves and protecting the Protestant faith from Catholicism. The Puritans has originally broken away from the Church of England because it hadn't fully extricated itself from Catholic practices such as holy water, crucifixes and stained glass windows.   The other part was political: the Puritans were worried about the incursion of the French from Canada, who were encroaching on Maine, which was then part of the Massachusetts Bay colony.  The French Jesuits were converting Indians to Catholicism, raising the scenario that the French could induce the Indians to help defeat the Protestant New Englanders as the two European powers sought to carve out territories in America.  It was "the only penal law against the presence of priests to be enacted in 17th century New Engla

Irish Famine Memorial Unveiled on Deer Island in Boston Harbor on May 25, 2019

A memorial commemorating Irish immigrants who were buried on Deer Island in the 1840s is being unveiled at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2019 on the island. Guests include Boston Archdiocese Sean Cardinal O’Malley and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Master of Ceremonies is Eugene O’Flaherty. City of Boston’s Chief Archivist John McColgan is giving the historical remarks, and Máirín Keady is singing the American and Irish anthems. The Boston Curragh Rowing Club is placing a ceremonial wreath in the water in memory of those who died. Deer Island is currently the wastewater facility run by the MWRA, but in the 1840s it was converted to a quarantine station as thousands of impoverished and ill Irish immigrants flooded into Boston Harbor, fleeing the Irish Famine, a series of potato crop failures that decimated Ireland. In 1847 alone, some 47,000 Irish came to Boston. The idea for an Irish Memorial was first raised in the 1990s when the bones of interred Irish were inadverte

May 19, 1832: Charlestown Refuses Request to Bury Irish Catholic Children in the Town Cemetery

Photo courtesy of Stephen O'Neill "On May 19, 1832, Boston's Catholic Bishop,  Benedict Fenwick  attempted to bury two Boston children, three-year-old Florence Driscoll, who died from teething, and three-month-old James Kinsley, who died from infantile disease, at the recently opened  Bunker Hill Catholic Cemetery  in the town of Charlestown, Massachusetts, right across the bridge from Boston. "The obligation to make the request in writing was unusual, but the town selectman had passed a ruling the previous November, in an effort to keep Irish Catholics from being buried in Charlestown. The townsfolk feared that the Irish would bring religious superstitions and disease to their town. In the nineteenth century the entire world was worried about the spread of diseases. "Fenwick’s request to bury the children was denied the same day it was written by Selectman Nathan Austin, who stated, “The object of the town in adopting the rule was to prevent

May 16, 1847, USS Jamestown Returns to Boston After Historic Voyage to Cork to Aid Famine Victims

Painting of USS Jamestown in Boston Harbor, by  Ted Walker , Marine Artist On May 16, 1847 the  USS Jamestown  returned to Boston Harbor after carrying food, medical supplies and clothing to the people of Cork during the height of the Irish Famine.  The journey was headed by  Captain Robert Bennet Forbes , a wealthy China trade merchant from Milton, MA, who had left Boston on March 28, 1847 with a crew of 38 men and 800 tons of supplies. Henry Lee's book,  Massachusetts Helps to Ireland During the Great Famine , gives a masterful account of this extraordinary episode in Boston's history. "Contributions of food continued to arrive from all over New England," Lee wrote.  "The cargo consisted largely of Indian corn and bread but included also hams, prok, oatmeal, potatoes, flour, rye, beans, rice, fish and sixteen barrels of clothing." The fifteen day voyage faced foul weather and a blend of rain, sleet, wind and fog requisite for th

Harpist Nancy Hurrell Performs at John J. Burns Library at Boston College

A special performance lecture and reception celebrating the release of The Egan Irish Harps:Tradition, Patrons and Players by Nancy Hurrell  takes place at 5 p.m. on May 17, 2019 at the John J. Burns Library at Boston College.  Nancy Hurrell is a harp historian and consultant to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her groundbreaking CD, The Egan Irish Harp, is the first recording of an Egan Portable Irish Harp, c.1820. The book was recently published by Four Courts Press with support from John J. Burns Library.  This event is jointly sponsored by the Irish Georgian Society and Boston College Libraries. Click  here  for directions, parking, and more information. Read more about the library's Irish and Irish-American collections. Find year round information on Irish activities in Massachusetts at IrishMassachusetts.com .  

Special Offer for Nathan Carter concert at Wilbur Theatre in Boston, May 28

Celtic Country star Nathan Carter is performing live at  The Wilbur Theatre  in Boston on Tuesday, May 28.  He is being joined by Chloe Agnew, one of Ireland's premier vocalists and former member of Celtic Woman.  They'll be backed by a stellar six-piece band.  You can win a free pair of tickets to this captivating show - just  enter the BITA contest here .   This week only (May 6-12), you can save 20% off your tickets while supply lasts.  Use 20Nathan with code and go to this link . Nathan is taking the music world by storm. He first catapulted into stardom in his native Ireland, charming audiences on guitar, piano and accordion. Nathan’s live show is a unique blend of Celtic, country and pop favorites that bring audiences to their feet.  Read more  about Nathan Carter  here. The Wilbur Theatre  is located at 246 Tremont Street in downtown Boston, right across from Boston Common, the nation's oldest public park. Tickets to the show range from $35-5

Boston Forms a Thomas Moore Club in May 1852 to Celebrate Ireland's Bard

Leaders from Boston's Irish community formed a Thomas Moore Club in May 1852 to celebrate the life and musical genius of Ireland's most famous bard.    Upon learning of Moore's death in February, 1852, Boston Pilot Publisher  Patrick Donahoe and other leaders formed the Club to perpetuate his music.   The first annual celebration of the Tom Moore club occurred at the Merchant's Exchange Hotel on May 27, 1852.  The original officers included Thomas Darcy McGee, president; P.H. Powers, Vice-President; John W. Atkinson, Secretary; and Henry Dooley, Treasurer, according to an account in The Boston Pilot , an Irish-Catholic weekly newspaper.  "About 80 gentlemen sat down to a bounteous table, in a tastefully decorated hall, where mirth and music, peace and harmony, love and good fellowship, seemed to congregate as members or invited guests in paying homage to the departed spirit but ever-living genius of Thomas Moore," wrote The Pilot .  McGee, wh