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Showing posts from October, 2020

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