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Showing posts from May, 2020

The Shaw Memorial Unveiled in Boston on May 31, 1897

Boston’s most iconic public monument, the Shaw Memorial, was officially unveiled on May 31, 1897.  The homage to the 54th Black Infantry Regiment of Boston is considered one of America’s most significant Civil War memorials.   It was the first public monument to accurately depict black soldiers in military uniform. The memorial was created by immigrant Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), considered by many to be America’s greatest sculptor of the 19 th century.  The memorial was unveiled on Memorial Day, located near the site where Civil War regiments mustered on Boston Common before going off to war. Notable guests at the ceremony included acclaimed Black inventor and leader Booker T. Washington, philosopher and writer William James, along with veterans of the 54 th Regiment and the families of the soldiers.   It took Saint-Gaudens fourteen years to complete the memorial, partly because there was an early disagreement within the memorial commission about how the piece

Charlestown Selectmen Refuse to Bury Catholic Children in the Town, 1832

Photo by 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 the bringin

Boston Olympians Are Celebrated at Faneuil Hall on May 13, 1896

The Boston athletes who triumphed in the first Modern Olympics in Athens, Greece were feted by an enthusiastic crowd of family, friends and supporters with a reception in their honor at Faneuil Hall, followed by a banquet at the Vendrome Hotel on May 13, 1896. Local poet  Henry O'Meara  wrote a special tribute, "To Our Laureled Sons," which was recited and later sung by Irish tenor Joseph White. The team's manager was  John Graham , and the track and field athletes were  Thomas E. Burke ,  Ellery H. Clark ,  Thomas P. Curtis ,  W.W. Hoyt   and  Arthur Blake , representing the  Boston Athletic Association;  and  James Brendan Connolly , representing the Suffolk Athletic Club in South Boston.  Connolly had remained in Europe after the Olympics and was not at the celebration. Attending the banquet with other dignitaries were Governor  Roger Wolcott  and Boston Mayor  Josiah Quincy , according to a story in the  Boston Globe . For more information on Boston's Iri

Boston Hosts its first Irish festival, Feis Ceoil Agus Seanachas, in May 1900

Boston's Irish-American community, inspired by Ireland's literary revival and the renaissance of the Irish language at the turn of the 20th century, organized its first Feis Ceoil Agus Seannachus, or Festival of Music and Story, on Sunday, May 6, 1900 at the Hollis Theatre, located between Washington and Tremont Streets in downtown Boston. The festival was organized by a number of local Irish societies, including the Gaelic Society and the Philo-Celtic Society of Boston.  Language enthusiast Professor Fred Norris Robinson of Harvard's Gaelic department also participated. A musical highlight of the festival was the performance by Ireland's famous baritone William Ludwig ,who specialized in interpreting ancient Irish airs.  Reverend Eugene O'Growney sang the "Star Spangled Banner" in Gaelic, and Patrick Harney played a selection of tunes on the uilleann pipes, according to The Boston Globe .   Other musicians included Irish harpist Nona Conveney