Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2020

David I. Walsh is first Irish Catholic Elected as Massachusetts Governor in 1913

David I. Walsh , the first Irish Catholic elected as Governor of Massachusetts, received the largest plurality ever for a Democratic candidate for the office, winning by over 53,000 votes, getting 180,000+ votes. He defeated three other candidates: Charles S. Bird, Augustus Gardner and Eugene Foss. Walsh had to plan a larger inaugural reception than originally envisioned because of public enthusiasm for his election, according to The Boston Globe. "So great is the demand for invitations to his inaugural that Gov-elect Walsh has evolved a new plan, which he believes will reduce disappointments," the Globe wrote in a story on December 10, 1913. "A reception will be held in the Hall of Flags immediately after the delivery in the House chamber of his inaugural address....Mr. Walsh intends to enter the Hall of Flags and shake hands with as many persons as care to meet him." A native of Clinton,Walsh was best known as an "ardent supporter of women's suffrage a

Irish Immigrant Annie Glover Hung in Boston 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

John F. Kennedy - the Quintessential War Hero

  President John F. Kennedy was a decorated war hero who led his men to safety after their ship, the PT 109, was torpedoed by a Japanese destroyer during World War II.   The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston has a fascinating account of this episode, and Kennedy's military service, and a significant collection of war memorabilia.  See materials here . The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site in Brookline, MA also has details of Kennedy's wartime service.  During his presidency, President Kennedy attended Veterans Day ceremonies to honor the military, while also aspiring to a peaceful world. “On this day of remembrance, let us pray in the name of those who have fought in this country's wars… that there will be no veterans of any further war -- not because all shall have perished but because all shall have learned to live together in peace,” he said in remarks at Veteran's Day ceremony, November 11, 1961. Find out more about Presiden

Boston's Purple Shamrock, James Michael Curley, died on November 12, 1958

Twin Curley statues at Union Park on Congress Street, Boston James Michael Curley , the larger-than-life political figure who dominated Boston and Massachusetts politics for half a century, died on November 12, 1958.   Over 100,000 people passed by his coffin at the Hall of Flags in the Massachusetts State House, according to a story in  The Boston Globe .  “The rich and the humble, Democrats and Republicans, bared the depth of their tribune in whispered prayers and unrestrained tears,” wrote the  Globe . Then a final process drove Curley's body through the streets of Boston and then to Holy Cross Cathedral in the South End, where his son, Reverend Francis S. Curley, S.J., celebrated mass along with Richard Cardinal Cushing of  South Boston .   Curley is buried the  Old   Calvary   Cemetery  in  Boston .  Born on November 20, 1874 on Northampton Street in Roxbury, Curley's political career was unparalleled.  Curley served four four-year terms as mayor of  Boston , in 1914, 1922

John Fitzgerald, grandfather of JFK, wins Boston U.S. Congressional Seat in November, 1894

Plaque to John F. Fitzgerald in Boston's North End . On November 6, 1894, John Francis Fitzgerald of Boston's North End was elected as U.S. Congressman, representing the Boston Ninth District. He assumed office in March 1895 and served as U.S. Congressman until 1901. The grandfather of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Fitzgerald was an audacious, colorful politician whose melodious singing voice earned him the nickname Honey Fitz. Born in Boston's North End on February 11, 1863, Fitzgerald was the son of Irish immigrant Thomas Fitzgerald of Limerick and Mary Josephine Hannon of Acton, MA. His daughter, Rose Fitzgerald , married Joseph P. Kennedy from East Boston, spawning the Kennedy political dynasty that dominated Boston for most of the 20th century. Fitzgerald's political career happened quickly. He worked his way up from the Boston Common Council in 1892 to state senate in 1893. In the congressional primary held in September 1894, Fitzgerald beat sitting

100,000 Bostonians March in Silent Mourning for death of Irish Hunger Striker Terence MacSwiney on November 1, 1920

Photo: National Library of Ireland, NPA POLF187 A massive procession of 25,000+ mourners marched through Boston on October 31, 1920 in tribute to Terence MacSwiney, lord mayor of Cork, Ireland, who died in a British prison on October 25 1920, after 74 days on a hunger strike. He was 41 years old. Two other men, Michael Fitzgerald and Joseph Murphy, who was born in Lynn, MA, also died on hunger strike in solidarity with MacSwiney. MacSwiney was active in the ongoing Irish revolution to oust the British from ruling Ireland. He was arrested numerous times by the British, the last time being August 1920, when he was accused of possessing “seditious articles and documents.” He was tried by a British military court, and sentenced to two years imprisonment at Brixton Prison in England. In protest to the military court, MacSwiney immediately went on a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment, which lasted nearly 11 weeks.  His comment during this time became a rallying cry for oppressed pe

Boxing Champ John L. Sullivan Born in Boston on October 12, 1858

Boxing champion John L. Sullivan was born on October 12, 1858, on East Concord Street in Boston's Roxbury/South End.  His father, Mike Sullivan, emigrated from County Kerry around 1850 and married Katherine Kelly, whose family had immigrated from Athlone in 1853. They married on November 6, 1856.  Most Irish boys during this time seemed to follow in their fathers' footsteps. John dropped out of school at age 15 and seemed destined to be a laborer like his father and thousands of other young Irish men living in Boston. But thankfully sports proved to be an outlet for John, and a way out from the drudgery of pick and shovel to which most Irish immigrants had to resign themselves.  He was a gifted baseball player, and was apparently offered a contract by the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional team in baseball.  By the time he was 17 John weighed nearly two hundred pounds and was already impressed his friends with feats of strength that earned him the nickname Stro

Playwright Eugene O'Neill born on October 16, 1888 in New York City

  Eugene O’Neill, one of the great American playwrights, was born in a hotel on October 16, 1888 in New York City to parents Ella Quinlan and Irish actor James O’Neill.   He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936, the highest literary honor in the world, and also won several Pulitzer Prizes for his plays.  O’Neill spent his formative years in New London, CT at Monte Cristo Cottage, the family’s summer home on Pequot Avenue. Later in life, O’Neill also spent considerable time in Massachusetts, taking a playwriting course at Harvard in 1914, then forming a troupe on Cape Cod called the Provincetown Players, which produced his play Bound East for Cardiff, in 1916.  In between, O'Neill led an adventurous life.  As a sailor, shipping out of Boston, he traveled around the world, then headed down to Honduras to prospect for gold.  He worked for awhile in Buenos Aires, Argentina, then jumped a tramp steamer to South Africa. Back in the states, he tried acting with his father

Carnival of Gaelic Games Feature Gaelic Football, Hurling and Track & Field in Cambridge on Oct 12, 1920

  A century ago this weekend, a monster carnival of Gaelic sporting events was held at Russell Field in North Cambridge on October 12, 1920. The event was organized by the Hibernians of Suffolk County, the AOH Ladies Auxiliaries and various Irish societies of greater Boston.  Among the highlights of the event were football games between Galway and Cork, and Kerry and Tipperary, and hurling league championship games featuring Emmets of Charlestown vs Redmonds of Cambridge and Shamrocks of South Boston vs Wolf Tones.   The Kerry football team was composed entirely of World War I veterans, according to The Boston Globe .  The Carnival also include a 100 yard dash, one-mile run and five mile-run.  Here are the results reported in The Globe on October 13, 1920:  In Hurling, The Redmonds beat the Emmets by a score of 3 goals and 2 points to 3 goals and 1 point.  In Gaelic Football, Kerry beat Tipperary by 2 goals and 1 point to 1 goal.  Fred Faller of the Dorchester Runners Club won the

Irish Ship Carrying Famine Refugees sinks off Cohasset in Massachusetts, killing most of the passengers, on October 7, 1849

Illustration by Leonard Everett Fisher A passenger ship called Brig St. John sank off the coast of Cohasset on the morning of Sunday, October 7, 1849, pushed to the brink by a severe nor'easter that rocked the boat for hours before it sank. On board the ship were 127 passengers from Ireland, along with sixteen sailors. The majority of passengers were poor Irish immigrants fleeing the famine. Writer Henry David Thoreau heard about the wreck and traveled from Concord to witness the aftermath. He wrote about it in his book, Cape Cod . "We found many Irish in the cars going to identify bodies and to sympathize with the survivors, and also to attend the funeral which was to take place in the afternoon," Thoreau wrote. "When we arrived at Cohasset, it appeared that nearly all the passengers were bound for the beach, which was about a mile distant, and many other persons were flocking in from the neighboring country."  Illustration by Leonard Everett Fisher On

Silent John Kerrigan of South Boston, was Acting Mayor of Boston in 1938 and 1945

John E. Kerrigan, a career politician who was called upon twice to serve as Acting Mayor of Boston, was born on October 1, 1908 in South Boston.  Kerrigan attended St. Augustine Grade School and South Boston High School and lived on West Eighth Street in South Boston all of his life.  In addition to serving as Acting Mayor, Kerrigan was elected one term as a State Senator. But it was in the Boston City Council that Kerrigan made his mark.   He served 15 terms, non-consecutively, and was the City Council President three times.  In 1951, Kerrigan won 11 consecutive terms, serving 22 consecutive years Kerrigan's mayoral duties both came when he was City Council President.  In 1938, when then-Mayor Maurice Tobin  was attending the American Legion Conference in Los Angeles, a sudden hurricane hit Boston.  Kerrigan temporarily stepped into the role of mayor and officially declared a State of Emergency.  He quickly engaged the Department of Public Works, Police and Fire, Hospitals and oth

Irish Poet William B. Yeats Lectures in Boston on the Irish National Theater on September 28, 1911

Photo courtesy of the Burns Library at Boston College Irish poet and playwright  William Butler Yeats  addressed an audience at the Plymouth Theatre in Boston on Thursday, September 28, 1911 on the subject, History of the Irish National Theatre and its Purposes. As managing director of Dublin's  Abbey Theatre , Yeats was in the United States to introduce a new literary movement taking place in Ireland that he hoped would be "the awakening of the mind of Ireland." The  Plymouth Theatre , located at Eliot Street (now Stuart) and Tremont Street, was a brand new playhouse, described as "a cozy, compact and home like-arrangement, with the seats in all parts of the house as near the stage as possible."  The Abbey players christened the new theatre with their productions. The Irish plays on opening night included The Shadow of the Glenn by John M. Synge, Birthright by T.C. Murray, and Hyacinth Halvey by Lady Gregory Yeats was introduced to the audience by  George Pierc

Tom Burke of Boston's West End Breaks the World Record in the 600 Yard Dash

Tom Burke of Boston's West End set a new world record in the 600 yard dash on September 20, 1896 at the prestigious Knickerbocker Athletic Club track & field meet in New York City. Burke, representing the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), won the race in 1 minute, 11 seconds, beating the old record by 4/10s of a second, held by Lon Myers (1882) and Billy Downs (1890). The New York Times described Burke as "a slight, graceful, wiry, swift-moving boy from Boston." He can be "described by no other word than marvelous."  By this time,  Thomas Edmund Burke (1875- 1929) was already a household name in track and field and certainly in Boston running circles.  The previous Apri, he became the first athlete in the Modern Olympic Games to win two races, the 100 yard dash and the 440 yard run.   Burke, just 20 years old at the time, was one of  six Boston athletes  who made the trip to Athens, Greece in April 1896 to participate in the revival of the Olympics. He han

Boston Hero John Boyle O'Reilly Dies on August 10 in Hull, Massachusetts

John Boyle O'Reilly, one of Boston's most accomplished citizens, died on August 10, 1890 in Hull, Massachusetts, from an accidental overdose of medication. His sudden death marked the end of an amazing life of heroism, advocacy, leadership and literature that helped transform the city and the nation. Arriving in Boston in 1870, O'Reilly 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. O'Reilly defended American Blacks who were still looking for post Civil War equality. He welcomed new immigrants such as Italians, Jews and Chinese, insisting that they get the same privileges as nativist Americans. Throughout his life he pursued freedom of Ireland from Britain, adv

Calendonian Festival in West Roxbury draws 10,000 People on August 5, 1916

The Boston Caledonian Club's 63rd Annual Scottish Picnic took place at the West Roxbury Grove  on Saturday, August 5, 1916, attracting 10,000+ attendees from the region's Scottish and Irish communities. According to  The Boston Globe , 39 athletic and cultural events ranged from track and field and football (soccer) to Scottish dancing and Bagpipe competitions. The Caledonian handicap road race of 13 ¼ miles started in front of the State House and finished at the Grove.  “The 16 starters were the crack local marathoners and Mayor James Michael Curley sent them off on their grind at 1:45,” wrote the Globe. Mayor James M. Curley  then traveled to the festival, where he addressed the crowd briefly and enjoyed the activities.  At one point, reported the Globe, Curley “was so pleased with the dance of one of the girls that he gave a personal prize.” In addition to the sports and cultural competitions, three prizes were also awarded for “Best Dressed Highlander,

Norman Rockwell Museum Features Exhibit on Rose O'Neill, Artist & Suffragette

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA has a new exhibit titled, Rose O'Neill: Artist & Suffragette , on display through September, 2020. The exhibit is timely since 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of American women formally given the right to vote, a cause to which O'Neill was devoted. Born in Wilkes Barre, PA, Rose O'Neill (1874-1944) and her family moved to Nebraska when she was young, and grew up in an artistic household where creative expression was encouraged and prized.  A self-taught illustrator, O'Neill moved to New York City at age 19 and soon her work was being published in leading magazines such as Harper's, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, as well as Puck Magazine.  In 1909 O'Neill created the popular characters the Kewpies dolls, elf-like figures that were immediately popular with the general public.  The merchandising of Kewpie dolls made O'Neill a millionaire, according to the exhibition notes. O'Neill becam

Irish Piper Seamus Ennis Featured at Newport Folk Festival in July 1964

Seamus Ennis , one of Ireland's most inspirational traditional Irish musicians, performed at the 5th Annual Newport Folk Festival  on July 23-26, 1964.  He was 45 years old. Ennis was a featured artist on opening night on Thursday, July 23, where he performed the uilleann pipes, told stories and sang Irish songs as part of a traditional folk program.  He was joined by Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters, Doc Watson, the Nova Scotia Singers and the Stanley Brothers. Then on Saturday night, Ennis joined the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys, Judy Collins, Peter Paul and Mary and the Osborne Brothers on the main concert stage. Other performers during the weekend included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, the Jug band, the Staple Singers and the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Founded in 1959 by jazz pianist and music impresario George Wein, the Newport Folk Festival has become the world's premier festival devoted to folk and traditional music from h

Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial Unveiled By Ireland's President on July 23, 1997

On Wednesday, July 23, 1997, Ireland's President Mary Robinson officially helped dedicate the Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial in Cambridge Common, a tribute to the 150th anniversary of Ireland's Great Hunger, known as An Gorta Mor. Nearly 4,000+ people attended the ceremony in the iconic Cambridge Common near Harvard Square, which also includes the Cambridge Civil War Monument designed by Irish immigrant Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1870. The Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial was created by Maurice Harron of Derry, Northern Ireland, who said the sculpture "is meant to convey the tragedy, two people dying, two people escaping, the fearful guilt of leaving loved ones behind, and the will to carry on." At the dedication ceremony, President Robinson said, "Part of Looking back and remembering was to link the Irish famine with modern famine and hunger and inequalities in our world.  It reinforced a very strong commitment of the Irish people to developing cou

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy born on July 22, 1890 in Boston's North End

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy , mother of President John F. Kennedy , was born on July 22, 1890 at 4 Garden Court in Boston's North End, at a time when the neighborhood was heavily Irish. Her father, John "Honey" Fitzgerald, was a prominent businessman and newspaper publisher of  The Republic  and her mother was Mary Josephine Hannon. When Rose married Joseph P. Kennedy of East Boston on October 7, 1914, it marked the merger of Boston's two most influential Irish political families. The newlyweds bought their first house at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, where they raised four boys and five girls.   The JFK Home in Brookline is managed by the National Park Service and is open to the public. Their second eldest son, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, became the first Catholic President of the United States in 1960.  Sons Robert and Edward were senators and played key roles in the Kennedy Administration, with Robert serving as the US Attorney General. Their daughter

July 1750, Irish Servant Girl Escapes from her 'Master' in Salem, Massachusetts

In the 18th century, many of the original Irish in New England were indentured servants who gained passage to America by agreeing to work in servitude for up to seven years.  But after they arrived here, many of them were dissatisfied with their harsh working conditions and poor treatment.  So they absconded from their 'masters' and escaped into the colonies. In the first half of the 18th century, newspapers such as the Boston Gazette , Boston News-Letter and New England Weekly Journal regularly ran advertisements seeking the return of these runaway servants. Very often the servants were captured and returned to their masters, as in the case of Edmund Murphy, who ran away from the home of Thomas Craddock in Milton in November 1737.  He was captured and returned to the Craddock household, only to escape again in March 1738.   Murphy's companion in the second escape was Edmond Butler, who was described in the advertisement as "a good scholar who speaks Englis