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Showing posts from June, 2019

Irish-born Augustus Saint-Gaudens, America's Master Sculptor in the 19th Century

Courtesy of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, Cornish, NH Acclaimed as America's greatest sculptor of the 19 th century, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) was born on March 1, 1848 on Charlemount Street in Dublin at the height of the Irish Famine, when millions of Irish were fleeing Ireland to places like Boston, New York, Montreal, St. John and other eastern port cities.    His father Bernard Saint-Gaudens was a French cobbler who had "a wonderfully complex mixture of a fierce French accent and Irish brogue."   His mother, Mary McGuinness, was born in Bally Mahon, County Longford, to Arthur McGuinness and Mary Daly. According to his son Homer, when Augustus was six months old, "the famine in Ireland compelled (the family) to go to America."   They landed in Boston in September 1848, where they lived for six weeks until the father found work in New York City and sent for them.   Augustus apprenticed as a cameo cutter, a

de Valera Visited Mission Church, Bunker Hill, Cambridge & Lexington on the Weekend of his Fenway Park Rally in 1919

 Basilica Church in Mission Hill, Roxbury Prior to his triumphant rally at Fenway Park on Sunday, June 29, 1919, Irish political leader Eamon de Valera spent the morning at the Roman Catholic Mission Church in Roxbury, where his half-brother, Reverend Thomas Wheelwright, was stationed as a priest.   Known formally as the Boston Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Mission Church opened in 1870 and is ministered by the Redemptorists Priests, whose mission is to serve the poor and the spiritually abandoned. Dev had arrived at Boston’s South Station on Saturday, June 28 with his secretary Harry J. Boland and was greeted by scores of Irish supporters as he made his way to the Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay.   A marching band led the triumphant procession through the streets of Boston. That evening, Dev visited the rectory at Mission Church in Roxbury, where his half-brother, Rev. Thomas Wheelwright , C.SS.R. was stationed.

Boston's Irish Famine Memorial, Unveiled on June 28, 1998

Boston's  Irish Famine Memorial  was unveiled before a crowd of 7,000 people on Sunday, June 28, 1998 at the corner of School and Washington Street along Boston's  Freedom Trail  and  Irish Heritage Trail . The $1 million Memorial commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine which occurred in Ireland between 1845-1849, killing nearly one million people and forcing another two million people to emigrate to  Boston, New York, Halifax and other eastern seaboard cities. The memorial project was headed by the late  Thomas J. Flatley , along with  Michael Cummings  and others from the Boston community.   The Boston Irish Famine Memorial is part of the city's Irish Heritage Trail.   For year round details on Boston's Irish cultural community, visit .

Irish Rebel, Boston Reconciler John Boyle O'Reilly born on June 28, 1844

John Boyle O'Reilly , the famous Irish rebel who lived in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood from 1870 until his death, was b orn on June 28, 1844 in Dowth Castle along the River Boyne. Conscripted into the British Army as a young man, O'Reilly 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,  Catalpa , in 1868, 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 who were still looking for post Civil War e