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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

In June 1919, Irish Leader Eamonn de Valera Spoke at Fenway Park, Visited Boston's Mission Hill, Bunker Hill, Cambridge & Lexington

Photo from Boston Globe Archives In June, 1919, Irish political leader Eamon de Valera visited Boston and New England, a trip that included stops at historic American landmarks like Bunker Hill, Cambridge and Lexington, as well as a massive rally at Fenway Park on Sunday, June 29, 1919.   Dev 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. Basilica Church in Mission Hill, Roxbury      That evening, Dev visited the rectory at Mission Church in Roxbury, where his half-brother, Rev. Thomas Wheelwright , C.SS.R. was stationed.   After de Valera’s father died in 1885, Dev was sent back to Ireland where he was raised by his relatives.   His mother Catherine Coll of Bruee, Limerick married Charles Wheelwright, and had two children, Thomas and An

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,  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 who were still looking for post Civil War e

Boston National Peace Jubilee in June 1869 was the World's Largest Musical Event

The National Peace Jubilee, a gigantic music celebration of peace after the American Civil War, took place in Boston on June 15-19, 1869. The event was organized by Patrick S. Gilmore, celebrated cornetist and bandleader who emigrated from Ballygar, Galway to Boston in 1849.  Gilmore is credited with ushering in the July 4 celebration in Boston, ushering in the New Year's Eve countdown in Times Square, NYC, and also writing the Civil War anthem, When Johnny Comes Marching Home . Over 1,000 musicians and 10,000 vocalists participated in the National Peace Jubilee inside of a giant coliseum built especially for the festival.  The building itself measured 500 x 300 feet, with a height of 86 feet.  There were 12 entrances, each 24 feet wide, to accommodate the 50,000 people who attended each day.  According to newspaper accounts, two million feet of timber was used to build the stadium, and 20 tons of iron nails, bolts and bars. The coliseum was originally sought for Bo