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Showing posts from February, 2021

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