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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Boston's Travel & Culture magazine, winter issue, now available

(BOSTON) -- The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) has released its winter 2019/20 issue of Travel & Culture, a compendium of Irish concerts, culinary, cultural and literary activities taking place in Massachusetts and throughout New England.

The magazine is distributed free at visitor kiosks and cultural venues throughout Massachusetts and is available in digital format online on BITA’s home page.

This issue has feature stories about Christmas music in New England, including Boston Holiday Pops, A Christmas Celtic Sojourn, and holiday shows at the Irish Cultural Centre, Blackstone River Theatre and other cultural venues. Among the artists profiled are fiddler Liz Carroll and vocalists Chloƫ Agnew and Niamh Farrell.

Additionally, winter and St. Patrick’s Day activities leading up to March 2020 are included, from parades and concerts to cultural events and commemorations.

The “Ireland” section has stories about Dublin, one of the world’s great literary capitals, and Galway, which is officially named Europe’s cultural capital in 2020. In addition, a schedule of popular group tours from Boston to Ireland is listed.

A map of the Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail, which is celebrating its 25th season in 2019, is included, along with descriptions of the 20 downtown and Back Bay sites along the trail.

BITA is celebrating its 19th year as a year-round, cultural tourism organization that promotes the state’s largest ethnic community. The US Census reports that nearly 24% of all Massachusetts residents claim Irish ancestry.

BITA publishes three issues of Travel & Culture, in March, June and November.

For further details on festivals and concerts, as well as year-round Irish and cultural activities, hotel packages, gift shops and Irish pubs, visit

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Boston Chinese and Irish-American Soccer Teams Battle in 1918

A newly formed and undefeated Boston Chinese soccer team, comprised of collegiate players from Massachusetts colleges, met its first defeat on November 30, 1918 by the local Irish-American Soccer team.  The final score was 2-0.

At the time, soccer was a popular workingman’s sport and was popular in immigrant cities like New Bedford, Fall River, Lawrence, Quincy, Pawtucket, RI and Bridgeport, CT.

The Chinese Soccer team was formed in fall 1917, consisting of players from MIT, Boston University, Harvard and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, according to the Chinese Students Monthly in 1918.

Leading up to the match, local sports writers were predicting a tough battle that would favor the Chinese.

“Irish-Americans have their work cut out for them tomorrow when they tackle the Chinese soccer team.  The Irish-Americans will get the surprise of their lives if they expect to win easily,” warned Boston Globe sports reporter George M. Collins in his column Soccer Snaps.

“Captain Kwang of the Chinese soccer team of greater Boston is much pleased at the opportunity his team will have to play the Irish Americans at Sullivan Square Saturday," wrote Collins.  "This chap can play the game as it should be played and his teammates too, are ready to show their wares.”

The day of the game, the Globe reported.  “Irish-Americans took the measure of the crack Chinese soccer team, beating them two to nil.  The Chinese were without two star players.

“Starting against the wind, the Chinamen were first to threaten but the Irish Americans were not long in getting into their stride.  Shaw tested goalie Wei, but Wei was right on the spot.  Both teams had early chances to score, but the Irish-Americans carried the ball into Chinese territory and near the end of the half Shaw sent the ball past Wei after the goalkeeper slipped in saving a fast shot.

"On restarting, the Chinese team took the aggressive and rained shots in on top of Bowe, but he saved them all.

"The Chinese were all over the Irishmen at this time and only hard luck deprived them of scores.  Shaw got away and sent across a pretty pass which Len Roberts of Charlestown got with his head.  The ball struck the bar and Lennie got the rebound and beat Wei with a great goal. 

"After this, the Chinese again forced the play but were unable to score.  This was the first defeat of the year for the Chinese."

At the end of the 19th century, it was not unusual for Irish and Chinese in Boston to interact across social, cultural and religious lines.  According to scholar Sarah Deutsch in her book, Women and the City, there were many Chinese-Irish marriages because of the preponderance of single Chinese men who worked on the railroads and single Irish women working as domestics.  In the early  20th century, Chinese were reportedly crossing the bridge from Chinatown to South Boston to be converted to Catholicism, writes Michael Quinlin in his book, Irish Boston.

Read more about Boston's Irish history by visiting

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Boston Puritans Hang Irish Immigrant during Witch Craze in 1688

On November 16, 1988 Boston City Council proclaimed Goody Glover Day, in tribute to Goodwife Ann Glover, an Irish women accused of being a witch by Cotton Mather and other Boston Puritan leaders.  Raymond L. Flynn was mayor.

An editorial in The Boston Globe, dated November 17, 1988, noted that a group of academics and a businessman "have formed a committee to erect a memorial on Boston Common or at the State House, where statues commemorate Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer, who were also victims of religious intolerance.   A memorial to Glover would be a reaffirmation by today's citizens that bigotry in any form is intolerable. The efforts deserve support."

Glover was an Irish captive sent to Barbados by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s.  Her husband died there, and by 1680 she and her daughter were living in Boston, employed as housekeepers by John Goodwin.  In summer 1688 four of the five Goodwin children fell ill.  The doctor concluded "nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the Origin of these maladies."  Martha, the 13 year old daughter, confirmed the doctor's diagnosis by claiming she became ill right after she caught Glover stealing laundry.

Glover was arrested and tried as a witch. In the courtroom there was confusion over Glover's testimony, since she refused to speak English, despite knowing the language.  According to Mather, "the court could have no answers from her, but in the Irish, which was her native language." The court convicted Glover of witchcraft and sentenced her to be hanged on November 16, 1688.

James B. Cullen, author of The Story of the Irish in Boston (1889) wrote, "she was drawn in a cart, a hated and dreaded figure, chief in importance, stared at and mocked at, through the principal streets from her prison to the gallows….The people crowded to see the end, as always; and when it was over they quietly dispersed, leaving the worn-out body hanging as a terror to evil-doers."

It is commonly assumed that Glover was hanged at the public gallows on the Boston Common on the great elm that was destroyed in a storm in 1876.  But Cullen reported that Glover was hanged in the South End, on the site of the South End Burying Ground on Washington Street.

and that same year a plaque (photo above) was placed at Our Lady of Victories Church in Boston's South End/Bay Village neighborhood by the InternationalOrder of Alhambra, a Catholic Men's organization that marks Catholic landmarks around the world.

The plaque to Ann Glover at Our Lady of Victories Church is a stop along Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail.

For more about Irish heritage in Boston, visit

For details on Irish cultural activities year round, visit

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Boston's Statue to Scotsman Robert Burns Returns Home to The Fens after 44 Years

The wandering bard has finally returned home.  

The bronze statue of Scotland's poet 
Robert Burns (January 25, 1759 – July 21,1796) was returned to The Back Bay Fens in Boston in a ceremony on October 30, with local Scottish leaders, open space advocates and consular officials.  Scottish vocalist Maureen McMullan and friends provided the music for the event. 

The Burns statue was originally unveiled in the Fens on January 1, 1920, near the Westland Avenue entrance, in a full-fledged ceremony that included Governor Calvin Coolidge, Boston Mayor Peters, and a regiment of Highland bagpipers.  
Then, inexplicably, the statue was moved in 1975 to the newly opened Winthrop Square in Boston's Financial District.  Apparently the developer requested a statue of John Winthrop, and because one wasn't available, the city's Fine Arts Commission offered up the Burns statue instead. 

Local Scots were furious and protested to city officials, who were also sheepish about the decision made behind closed doors.  A letter to The Boston Globe by Julie Ransom stated, 

"The beautiful statue was abruptly removed from this appropriate site and rudely set down in the new Winthrop Square.  This maneuver, to enhance a developer’s investment at the expense of a politically powerless neighborhood, was authorized by a man who does not live in Boston.  Surely a more suitable statue could be found to preside over Winthrop Square, and the poet-farmer can return to his home.  He is indeed sorely missed by all who live near the Fens."

Created by sculptor Henry Hudson Kitsonthe bronze statue has a 30 ton granite base and depicts Burns with his dog Luath, walking the highlands of Scotland.  Kitson was a well-regarded artist who created a number of important statues in Boston, including the memorial to Patrick Collins, which is part of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail.

Best known for composing  the unofficial anthem to New Year's Eve, Auld Lang Syne, Burns was a prolific poet who wrote over 300 poems, as well as various epistles and ballads. He was prolific in other ways too, fathering fourteen children.

For details on Irish and Scottish cultural activities in greater Boston visit