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Showing posts from June, 2020

Irish 9th Regiment of Massachusetts Presented Flag to Governor Andrew in June 1861

An estimated 150,000 Irish fought on the Union side in the American Civil War, including two Irish regiments from Massachusetts: the Ninth Regiment of Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers and the 28th Irish Massachusetts Regiment. The 9 th Regiment's flag was first publicly displayed on June 25, 1861 when Colonel Thomas Cass made a formal visit to Governor Andrew to receive the state flag.  The Ninth Regiment sported an Irish flag made of green silk, with a scroll inscribed in gold that read: "Thy sons by adoption; they firm supporters and defenders from duty, affection and choice." On June 30, 1861, the 9th arrived in Washington D.C., where they were welcomed by President Abraham Lincoln. The Ninth Regiment saw extensive battlefield action in Virginia and Pennsylvania.  When Colonel Cass was mortally wounded at the Battle of Malvern Hill in Virginia in 1862, he was replaced by Colonel Patrick R.Guiney of Tipperary, who continued to distinguish the Regime

President John F. Kennedy Bids Farewell to Ireland, June 29, 1963

A high point of President John F. Kennedy’s time in office was his official visit to Ireland on June 26-29, 1963. The visit captured the world’s imagination and shone a spotlight on the new Republic of Ireland. The visit was a triumphant, emotionally charged promenade in which the entire population of Ireland seemed to participate. Kennedy’s motorcade passed regally through the streets of Dublin, Cork, and Galway as thousands of proud Irish cheered him with tears of joy in their eyes, and the twin flags of Ireland and the United States waved madly for him. The President’s eight great-grandparents all migrated to Boston, Massachusetts during the Potato Famine of the late 1840’s, seeking to take advantage of the economic opportunity offered in America. By the end of the century, both of President Kennedy’s grandfathers had become successful Boston politicians. Patrick J. Kennedy was a tavern owner and later a banker who served in both Houses of the Massachusetts Legislatur

Boston Irish Leader John Boyle O'Reilly Born on June 28, 1844

John Boyle O'Reilly , considered one of Boston’s true leaders in speaking, writing and campaigning for human rights, oppressed people and injustice, was born on June 28, 1844 in County Meath, Ireland.  Conscripted into the British Army as a young man, O'Reilly was 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.   When he arrived in Boston in 1870, he was infatuated by the possibilities of democracy and liberty.   He spent the next twenty years of his life, until his death in 1890, speaking out on behalf of Irish, Blacks, Native Americans, Jews, Chinese and other beleaguered groups trying to make their way in America. As editor and then owner of  The Pilot ,  the leading Irish Catholic paper in America, O’Reilly used the paper as a bully pul

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

The Boston Irish Famine Memorial was unveiled on Sunday, June 28, 1998, before 7,000 people, including the governor of Massachusetts, mayor of Boston and government officials from Ireland.   A Vietnamese and Rwandan were among the speakers of the day, an acknowledgment of modern day refugees who continue to seek solace in Boston. The Memorial by artist Robert Shure juxtaposes an Irish family starving in Ireland with another Irish family striving for success in America.   Eight narrative plaques encircling the statues tell the story of the famine and the Irish triumph in America. The $1 million memorial park commemorates the 150 th anniversary of the Irish Famine (1845-49), during which one million people died of starvation or disease and nearly two million fled Ireland to avoid death.  Over 100,000 Irish refugees arrived in Boston during this time, transforming the city. Their arrival revealed deep-seeded hostility among some Bostonians, prompting an anti-immigrant

Boston's World Peace Jubilee, with 22,000 Musicians & Singers, Had its Grand Finale on July 4, 1872

In the summer of 1872,  Boston  staged the largest concert in history at that time, featuring over 2,000 musicians and 20,000 singers, performing as soloists, in various ensembles and also  en masse , to convey the joy, comfort and inspiration that music can bring. The World Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival ran from June 17 through July 4, 1872, housed in a temporary coliseum that was built in what is now  Copley Square  in  Boston ’s  Back Bay .  In addition to the 22,000 performers, the stadium held 60,000 spectators, and it was filled to capacity on many of the 18 days in which the Jubilee ran. The Jubilee was created by Irish immigrant Patrick S. Gilmore, a talented cornet player, band leader and impresario who had become the best known musician in  America .  Gilmore had been Band Master for the Union Army during the Civil War and is credited with penning the song,  When Johnny Comes Marching Home , a war anthem still played today.  He had staged an earli

The New England Irish Connections to Bunker Hill

Photo by Peter H. Dreyer, Boston City Archives Bunker Hill Day is celebrated in Boston  each June 17 to mark the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place on June 17, 1775 between American colonists and British troops.  The Bunker Hill Monument  was built to recognize the sacrifice of the colonists fighting against British rule. The British may have won the Battle of Bunker Hill, but the battle marked the point where "British tyranny ended and American liberty began."   The 115 American colonists who died at Bunker Hill included English, Scots, Irish, Native Americans and African Americans, a melting pot of future citizens of the nation.  Of the New England militiamen who rushed to Charlestown to defend Boston Harbor, 176 were Irish-born, and hundreds more were born of Irish parents, many of whom were indentured servants sent to the American colonies from Ireland.   Just five days earlier, on June 12, 1775,  Jeremiah O'Brien and his four brothers engaged

Mayo Gaelic Football Team Plays Massachusetts All-Stars at Fenway Park, June 6, 1937

The acclaimed Mayo Football Club visited Boston to play against the Massachusetts All Stars at Fenway Park on June 6, 1937. The Massachusetts team, managed by Mike McKeown, consisted of the best players from the local Boston teams. On game day, over 6,000 fans were in the stands, to witness Mayo easily defeating the Massachusetts team by a score of 17-8.  Wrote The Boston Globe’s sports reporter Victor O. Jones, “I’ve looked upon some great athletes and some great teams in my day, but I’ve yet to see a finer body of men than those who wore the Green and Red of Mayo yesterday.  "Most of them were giants - tall, broad-shouldered, barrel-chested and thick-limbed - but their physical qualifications didn’t stop there.  They were also fast, amazingly so, for such large men, rugged and apparently tireless.  Skillful too, they were nimble with their hands and feet in a game which requires not only power and speed but also fitness." Jones cited three Mayo pla