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Showing posts from 2021

Christmas Gift Idea in Boston, December 1871: Gilmore's History of the National Peace Jubilee

Patrick S. Gilmore's signature book, History of the National Peace Jubilee and Great Musical Festival, was advertised as a Christmas gift idea by the Boston Evening Transcript in December 1871 leading up to Christmas.   The 758-page, 6 x 9" volume, published by Gilmore himself, was released in late summer 1871 and which sold for $5.00 by Lee & Shepard, a publishing and bookselling firm on Washington Street in Boston.  The book was an exhaustive account of the National Peace Jubilee, which took place in Boston on June 15-19, 1869, a musical celebration of peace devised by Gilmore himself to mark the aftermath of the Civil War. More than 1,000 musicians and 10,000+ vocalists performed during the five-day Jubilee in the section of Boston now known as Copley Square.  U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant attended the event,  and top musicians included violinists Ole Bull and Carl Rose and vocalists Madame Parepa-Rosa and Adelaide Phillips.  Despite early criticism from Boston'

Irish Patriot Timothy Deasy Died in Lawrence, MA on December 10, 1880

Timothy Deasy (1839-1880), Civil War soldier, Irish rebel and elected official, died on December 10, 1880 in Lawrence, MA.  Deasy emigrated with his family from Clonakilty, County Cork to Massachusetts in 1847 to escape the Irish Famine. The family settled in Lawrence 35 miles north of Boston, the nation's first planned industrial city where immigrants and Yankees worked long hours in mills and factories.  The Deasy family had long been involved in Irish political insurrections, starting with the United Irishmen Uprising of 1798. In Lawrence, Timothy and his younger brother Cornelius joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood, formed in 1858 as a physical force movement to oust Britain from Ireland.   When the Civil War started, they enlisted in the 9th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in 1861. Both brothers were wounded in May 1864, but continued to fight with their unit. After the war, Deacy and 300 veterans went to Ireland in 1865 to train Irish soldiers for a planned insurrect


(BOSTON) -- The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) has released its winter 2021-2022 issue of Travel & Culture, a compendium of Irish concerts, culinary, cultural and literary activities taking place in Massachusetts and throughout New England, as well as travel tips to Ireland.  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.  Read the digital magazine here .   This issue features stories about Christmas and holiday concerts including shows at the Irish Cultural Centre, Blackstone River Theatre, Boston Symphony Hall, Shalin Liu Performance Center and various New England cultural venues. And it includes winter and St. Patrick’s Day activities leading up to March 2022, from parades and concerts to cultural events and dining specials.  The “Ireland” section has focuses on Tourism Ireland’s new “ Press the Green Button ” campaign to bring New Englanders and others ba

OTD, December 5, 1770, Two British Soldiers Found Guilty of Manslaughter for Boston Massacre

  " On December 5, 1770, nine months to the day after the Boston Massacre , Matthew Kilroy and Hugh Montgomery were found guilty of manslaughter for the killing of Crispus Attuck s; the other seven soldiers were exonerated. At their sentencing on December 14, both men invoked a medieval English plea for mercy called “the benefit of clergy,” originally offered to clergy and later extended to felons facing a first conviction. The plea involved showing their God-fearing ways by reciting Psalm 51; both Kilroy and Montgomery did so and thus had their execution commuted. They were branded with an M for murder on their thumbs and were released back into their regiment. Years later, when Governor Thomas Hutchinson’s diaries became public, it turned out that Hugh Montgomery had admitted to his lawyers that it was he who yelled out the fatal call to "fire" that helped start the American Revolution." Excerpt from  Irish Boston,  2nd edition, Published by   Rowman & Littlef

On November 23, 1885, Boston unveiled memorial to Irish Patriot John E. Kelly

Photo by Barbara Rotundo On November 23, 1885, a monument to the Irish patriot John Edward Kelly was formally dedicated at Boston’s Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan. Fellow Irish patriot John Boyle O’Reilly gave the impassioned oratory at the ceremony.   A native of Kinsale, Ireland, Kelly emigrated as a youngster with his parents to Nova Scotia and he eventually moved to Boston, and later New York, where he became involved in the Fenian movement brewing in the US.   Kelly returned to Ireland to help stage an uprising in 1867 but was captured during the Fight at Kilclooney Wood. He was sentenced to life imprisonment to a penal colony in western Australia at age 19.  In 1871, Kelly was among Fenian prisoners released in the British Government’s general amnesty, according to the Fenian Graves website. He lived in many places but eventually made his way back to Boston. When he died in January 1884, he was in poor health from the living conditions at the prison and from a hard life on

Roxbury's John F. Collins, Mayor of Boston from 1960-1967, Professor at MIT

John Frederick Collins (1919-1995) served as Mayor of Boston for two terms, from 1960 to 1967.  Born in Roxbury on July 20, 1919, his father, Frederick “Skeets” Collins was a mechanic for the Boston Elevated Railway.  Collins attended Suffolk University and served in World War II, and after the war married Mary Patricia Cunniff. Elected to the House of Representatives in 1947, representing Jamaica Plain, Collins ran for City Council in 1955.  During that race, he and his four children were struck by the polio virus.  The children recovered, but Collins himself became paralyzed and never walked again.  He won the election and in 1959, when Mayor John B. Hynes announced he would not seek another term, Collins was a long-odds candidate against the popular John E. Powers, the state senate president from South Boston . Collin’s victory was considered a major upset, but it gave him the freedom to carry out his duties unfettered. “I owed them nothing and they owed me n

Cardinal O'Connell Parkway Dedicated in Lowell on November 17, 1918

On November 17, 1918, more than 30,000 people gathered in Lowell to honor a favorite native son, William Henry Cardinal O'Connell, who was at that time the Cardinal of the Boston Archdiocese. Officials unveiled and dedicated a fountain of granite and bust of O’Connell along a parkway in front of City Hall. The fountain and bust were designed by Henry L. Rourke of Lowell.   Prior to the unveiling and in the pouring rain, a massive parade took place through the city, as described in the Lowell Irish blog .   At the unveiling, Lowell industrialist Humphrey O’Sullivan addressed O’Connell and the crowd, “For years we have been involving in our minds how to give expression to our love and fealty for your Eminence,” he said. “This beautiful fountain and bust erected in your honor, represent in concrete form the pent-up love and esteem we have in our hearts, which also finds expression in this great gathering.” Cardinal O’Connell said, “It is natural for a man to rejoice that his home

In 1988, Boston City Council Proclaimed November 16 as GOODY GLOVER DAY IN BOSTON, honoring an Irish Woman Falsely Hung as a Witch in 1688

  On November 16, 1988 Boston City Council officially proclaimed Goody Glover Day in tribute to Goodwife Ann Glover, an Irish immigrant woman who was falsely accused of being a witch and hung from the gallows in 1688. Puritan leader Rev Cotton Mather and other town leaders were involved in the trial and execution of Glover. Glover was an Irish indentured servant sent to Barbados in the 1650s. Her husband died on the island, and by 1680 Goody 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 know

In November 1818, St. Augustine’s Cemetery in South Boston became the city’s first Catholic cemetery

After the Revolutionary War, the Puritan's strident objections to Catholics living in the Bay Colony had lessened, thanks in part to the bravery of French, Polish and Irish soldiers fighting alongside the colonists during the colonial war against Britain.  But it wasn’t until November 1818 that the Town of Boston’s Board of Health gave "that group of Christians known as Roman Catholics" permission to erect their own cemetery, later to be called St. Augustine's , on the South Boston peninsula. Prior to that, the Irish were buried at Central Burying Ground on Boston Common, Granary Burying Ground on Tremont Street or Copp’s Hill in the North End, according to historian William J. Gurney in his research, A Short History of St. Augustine’s Cemetery.   The first burial to take place at St. Augustine's, in December 1818, was for Father Francis Matignon , a beloved French priest who had administered the sacraments to largely French and Irish Catholics since 1792. It was

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, Born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts

  John Fitzgerald Kennedy , 35th president of the United States, was born at about three o'clock in the afternoon on May 29, 1917 at 83 Beale Street in Brookline, Massachusetts.  John was the second son of  Patrick Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy , named in honor of his maternal grandfather,  John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald .    In the book,  Rose Kennedy's Family Album ,  published in 2013, Rose Kennedy writes: "When a mother holds her first baby in her arms, what awe-inspiring thoughts go fleeting through her mind and fill her heart.  A child has been bestowed upon her to mold and to influence - what a challenge, what a joy! ...On her judgement he relies, and her words will influence him, not for a day or a month or a year, but for time and for eternity - and perhaps for future generations.  A grandmother, an aunt, a teacher may guide the child temporarily, but when the mother enters the room, it is to her he turns for the final judgement. "A mother knows

Boston Irish Raise Relief Funds for Ireland during the Irish War of Independence, April 25, 1921

  One hundred years ago today, a series of monster rallies were held around Boston in support of The American Committee for Relief in Ireland. The national effort aspired to raise over $10 million in relief for the people of Ireland, who were suffering from food shortages, medical supplies and other necessities during the Irish War of Independence against British colonial rule on the island of Ireland. In a letter to the Relief committee in March 1921, President Warren G. Harding wrote, “The people of America never will be deaf to the call for release on behalf of suffering Humanity, and the knowledge of distress in Ireland makes quick and deep appeal to the more fortunate of our own land, where so many of our children Trace relationships to the Emerald Isle." A similar effort by Americans was taken on behalf of Belgium during World War I under U.S. President Herbert Hoover Ireland's Relief Committee was overseen by Texan businessman and Hoover ally J. F. Lucey, who told the P

USS Jamestown Sails from Charlestown Navy Yard on Humanitarian Mission to Help Ireland, March 28, 1847

  Painting of USS Jamestown, courtesy of the artist Edward D. Walker  On March 28, 1847, the USS Jamestown set sail from Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston Harbor on a humanitarian mission to Ireland, carrying 800 tons of supplies for the victims of the Irish Famine. The mission was led by Captain  Robert Bennet Forbes , a wealthy sea merchant living in Milton, MA. With Forbes on the journey were 38 crew members who had signed on to help. In February, Forbes had petitioned the US Congress for the loan of a naval ship to bring supplies, and permission to use the USS Jamestown had been granted. As the boat left the harbor on the morning of March 28, crowds lined the wharf and the shores, cheering as the ship headed out to open seas. The fifteen day voyage faced foul weather and rain, sleet, wind and fog. The ship landed in Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork on April 12, 1847. Back in Boston, the newspapers enthusiastically reported on the trip, failing to note the cruel irony that became ap

Boston Mayors of Irish Descent, 1885-2021

(Originally published in 2013, this post was updated in 2021) Here are the Mayors of Boston Claiming Irish Heritage:  Hugh O’Brien 1885–88 Patrick Collins 1902–05 John F. Fitzgerald 1906–07, 1910–13 James M. Curley 1914–17, 1922–25, 1930–33, 1946–49 Frederick W. Mansfield 1934–37 Maurice Tobin 1938–41, 1941-44 John Kerrigan 1945 John B. Hynes 1950–59 John Collins 1960–68 Kevin H. White 1968–83 Raymond L. Flynn 1984–93 Martin J. Walsh   2014- 2021 The lineage of Boston mayors with Irish ancestry dates back to 1885, when Irish immigrant Hugh O'Brien of County Cork assumed office and became the first Irish-born mayor elected in Boston, serving four one-year terms (1885-88).   O'Brien was followed by Irish-born Patrick Collins (1902-05), also of County Cork, who died in office in 1905. He was replaced by John F. Fitzgerald, who became the first American-born mayor of Irish descent, serving two terms.  A noteworthy mayor was James

Mary Boyle O'Reilly of Charlestown was a Social Reformer, Intrepid Traveler and Journalist Who Covered World War I

Mary Boyle O'Reilly (1873-1939) was a lifelong social activist and reformer whose passion was protecting children and young women.  Born on May 18, 1873 and raised in  Charlestown , Massachusetts, Mary was the daughter of Irish leader  John Boyle O’Reilly .   Like her father, Mary was committed to improving society and righting wrongs.  She was also a gifted writer and an intrepid traveler.  In 1901 O’Reilly and others established the Guild of St. Elizabeth, a Catholic settlement home for Children in  Boston ’s South End.  From 1907-1911 she was Massachusetts Prison Commissioner, and also a trustee of  Boston ’s  Children’s Institutions.  In 1910, disguised as a mill worker, she exposed the notorious ‘baby farms’ in  New Hampshire . In 1913 she became a foreign correspondent for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, reporting from  Mexico  and  Russia , and heading up the London Office.  When World War I erupted, she entered  Belgium  disguised as a peasant to cover the action.  Th

Irish Bond Drive to Support the Irish Republic Kicked off in Boston, Massachusetts on February 24, 1920

  101 years ago this week, Irish organizations in Boston and across Massachusetts enthusiastically geared up for an Irish Bond drive that would raise money to create an Irish Republic. Organized by the Friends of Irish Freedom, the drive aspired to raise one million dollars in Massachusetts, of which the Boston goal was half a million dollars, out of a total goal of $10 million across the United States. The bonds went on sale on Tuesday, February 24, 1920 not only in Massachusetts and the United States but across the world.    The denominations of the bonds ranged from $10 to $10,000, and the success of the drive depended upon the number of $10 bonds sold, according to state chairman Thomas Walsh.  Still, Walsh said  he was counting on "some rich Bostonians of Irish sympathy" to purchase the $10,000 bonds, reported The Boston Globe . Among the local groups involved in the drive were the County Galway Men's Association and the Gaelic School. In Charlestown, six year old A

On February 18, 1900, Irish leader Maud Gonne spoke at Boston's Tremont Temple, opposing the Boer War

Irish rebel Maud Gonne arrived in Boston on Sunday, February 17, 1900 and was greeted at South Station by a delegation of 50 men and women from Irish societies, who escorted her to the Vendome Hotel on Commonwealth Avenue.  She was on the last leg of a New England speaking tour in which she lambasted the English for starting the Boer War in Africa. The speaking tour took her to Lowell, Fall River, Brockton and other Irish-American enclaves.   On Monday, February 18, Gonne spoke at Tremont Temple near Boston Common, drawing 2,000 cheering supporters. There she uttered a phrase that bespoke the mindset of many Irish people. "From an Irish point of view," she said, "it matters not whether it be right or wrong, the nation that is the enemy of England is a friend and ally of Ireland."   That proposition was later rephrased by Irish rebel James Connolly as "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity."   The Boston organizers read a fiery proclama

140 Years Ago, Boston Leaders Met at Faneuil Hall to Support Ireland's Land League Movement

On February 11, 1881, public officials, distinguished citizens and Irish-American leaders gathered at Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston to show support for the Irish National Land League movement and to criticize the British government for trying to thwart the Land League movement in Ireland by arresting its leaders. Among those present were Irish-American leaders  John Boyle O'Reilly  and Patrick A. Collins , Boston Mayor Frederick O. Prince,  General Benjamin Butler  and abolitionist  Wendell Phillips . Mayor Prince expressed outrage at “the tyranny of the British government in arresting and imprisoning, without sufficient reason, that good man and true patriot, Michael Davitt.”   Patrick Collins  said, “This is not simply an Irish movement, but a movement in the interests of justice, truth, human rights and the civilization of the 19 th  century. What is happening in Ireland today is to happen in England and Scotland tomorrow, and this the British government knows and dreads.” Gen

Irish-American Sculptor Thomas Crawford, Master of Classical, Civil War and Patriotic Sculptures

Born in New York City to Irish parents, Thomas Crawford (1813-1857) is regarded as one of America's first significant sculptors. His biographer Henry T. Tuckerman described him as having "the ardor of Irish temperament and the vigor of an American character," while Loredo Taft notes that he attracted "the very choicest spirits of the world of art and literature" during his short life. A tumor behind his left eye killed Crawford at the early age of 44. Crawford moved to Europe when he was 21 and settled in Rome, where he lived much of his life. In 1844 he brought an exhibition of his work to Boston, where local institutions enthusiastically began purchasing his work. His bust of Beethoven, which he created from Rome in 1855 for the Boston Music Hall, is said to be "the first statue raised in America to an artist of any kind." The bronze bust is currently at the New England Conservatory.  Orpheus and Cerberus, at MFA Boston The Museum of Fine Arts has fo

Lowell Irish and City Officials Unveil Celtic Cross in front of City Hall in 1977

In 1977, a Celtic Cross was placed in O'Connell Park on Merrimack Street across from Lowell City Hall, as part of America's Bicentennial Celebration.  The granite monument was carved by local artisan Adian Luz. The text on the back of the monument reads: The Irish community of Lowell was the first ethnic group to inhabit this area. Through their efforts in every facet of city life, they helped to establish Lowell as one of the most important cities in the nation. The Irish first began settling here in 1822, when the Irish first settled here according to historians Leo Panas and Anne Quinn, who wrote:   "Their coming was inauspicious; in 1822, 30 laborers, led by Hugh Cummiskey walked from Charlestown to widen and build arteries from the old Pawtucket canal….These early Irish settlers were sturdy. They spoke Gaelic but knew enough English to follow directions and were sought after by the local employers of Lowell."  Despite opposition from local nativists who obje

Irish tenor John McCormack made his musical debut at Boston Symphony Hall on February 5, 1911

  Courtesy of Boston College, John J. Burns Library   On February 5, 1911, famed Irish tenor  John McCormack  made his debut at  Boston Symphony Hall , one of the great concert venues of the world.  Between 1911 and 1936 he performed there sixty-seven times, more than any other singer. McCormack’s arrival on the music scene helped to increase the popularity of Irish melodies in the United States, especially the works of Irish composers such as Thomas Moore and Samuel Lover.  McCormack also added credibility to Irish-American songsters like Chauncey Olcott and Ernest Ball, who co-wrote McCormack’s first hit “Mother Machree,” in 1910. Of McCormack’s rendition of “Mother Machree,” author Mark Sullivan observed, “true Irish songs enabled a singer to be sentimental without causing shivers to the discriminating listener.”   The  Irish Music Collection  at Boston College's John J. Burns Library has an important collection of materials about John McCormack.  And the  Archival Collection  a

Edgar Allan Poe, Born in Boston on January 19, 1809

Photo Courtesy of Boston National Park Service   Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), the famous 19th century writer of short stories and novels, was born in Boston on January 19, 1809, to parents who were actors at the Federal Street Theatre in Boston.   On his father's side, “The poet’s ancestors were of the same Scotch-Irish stock that produced Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Zachary Taylor. His great-great-grandfather came over and settled in PA in 1745 and his grandfather, David , was commissary general in the continental army and an intimate friend of Gen. Lafayette,” wrote the Boston Globe.   His mother was the daughter of an English actress. Edgar’s father David, Jr and his mother Elizabeth were an ill-fated pair who were part of a traveling troupe of actors, stopping in Boston, New York and other East Coast cities.  When Poe was just three,  his father died of consumption and his mother died a month later, and Poe was adopted by the Allan family in Richmond, VA. He was educated

John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

On January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave his inauguration speech on a wintry day in Washington, DC.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren administered the oath of office.  Also on the podium: former Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry Truman, former Vice President Richard M. Nixon, and Kennedy's wife Jacqueline and family, and other notable citizens. See the entire video of the speech from The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum website .   Here are some passages from the speech: "We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom--symbolizing an end as well as a beginning--signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters. "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for

Four Mezzo-Rilievo Adorn Martin Milmore's Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Boston Common

The Soldiers and Sailors monument on Boston Common, unveiled in September 1877, was the masterpiece of sculptor Martin Milmore, who emigrated from County Sligo in 1851 with his widowed mother and four brothers, all of whom became noted artists and sculptors.  Milmore was recognized as a gifted artist as a schoolboy when he attended the Brimmer School and Boston Latin School. He apprenticed to noted Boston sculptor Thomas Ball, famous for the George Washington Statue in the Boston Public Garden and the Daniel Webster statue in Central Park, New York. Shortly after Milmore received the commission and the cornerstone was laid by city officials in September 1871, Milmore moved to Rome, Italy, where he spent the next five years modeling his designs, inspired by classical Italian sculpture.   The contract stipulated that the statues and the body of the monument should be granite, and the bas-reliefs marble white.   Milmore wrote to the commission from Rome, asking and receiving their permis