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Showing posts from January, 2024

Harvard Refuses to Let Irish Woman Speak about British Atrocities in Ireland after the 1916 Uprising

 Photo: National Museum of Ireland Irish activist Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington was denied a request to speak at Harvard University in January 1917, when she was in Boston to speak about "The Truth of the Irish Uprising." Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington had already spoken at Faneuil Hall, where 2,000 people jammed into the famous hall to hear her talk about the execution of her husband, writer and pacifist Francis Skeffington, who was taken out and shot without trail in the wake of the Easter 1916 uprising in Dublin, and the ensuing British coverup. She was introduced at Faneuil Hall by Mayor James Michael Curley . Learning of the success of the Faneuil Hall speech, Harvard then denied her access to its campus. The Boston Globe reported, "Harvard has refused to let Mrs Sheehy-Skeffington speak in a building under corporation control. This is a great compliment to the power of the Irish widow. When she tells her story of the way in which the British Government treated the Irish at t

City of Quincy Unveils Robert Burns Statue in 1925 Honoring the Scottish Poet

Photo Courtesy of Michael Quinlin Scotland’s famous poet Robert Burns, whose birthday is celebrated around the world on January 25, has a beautiful granite statue and park in his honor in the city of Quincy, Massachusetts.  The 25-ton statue was designed by noted Quincy sculptor John Horrigan (1863-1939) and carved by his son Gerald Horrigan (1903-1995), and unveiled on November 28, 1925. The statue depicts Burns holding his hat in one hand and a book of poems in the other hand, with a sheaf of wheat by his side. Best known for composing the unofficial anthem to New Year's Eve, Auld Lang Syne , Burns was a prolific poet who wrote more than 300 poems, as well as various epistles and ballads. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Quincy had a vibrant Scottish community.  Photo Courtesy of Michael Quinlin The noble statue stands at a small park at the intersection of Granite Street and Burgin Parkway, where it was moved from its original location and rededicated on October 24, 1971.  The

American Irish Historical Society was formed in Boston on January 20, 1897, to Dispel Myths about the Irish in America

On January 20, 1897, a group of 40 distinguished Irish-Americans met at the Old Revere House in Boston to officially launch the American Irish Historical Society.  Among the elected officers were Rear Admiral Richard W. Meade, newspaper editor Thomas Hamilton Murray; Theodore Roosevelt, who claimed Irish ancestry on his mother’s side; famed sculptor Augustus St. Gauden s, who was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and French father; poet and writer James Jeffrey Roche, who wrote the biography of John Boyle O’Reilly;  Thomas Lawlor of the publishing company Ginn and Company and Thomas Addis Emmett, a prominent New York attorney and part of an illustrious patriotic family.  Thomas J. Gargan, a distinguished Boston orator and writer, presided at the first AIHS meeting. The group’s lofty mission was to “correct the erroneous, distorted and false views of history in relation to the Irish in America; to encourage and assist in the formation of local societies; and to promote and foster an ho

Northeastern University Opens New Exhibit, "Images of Irish and Black in Boston: The Development of Stereotypes," in January 1984

Dancers Dawn Smalls and Keelin Connolly, January 15, 1984. Boston Globe photo. Forty years ago this week, on January 15, 1984, a new exhibit entitled "Images of Irish and Black in Boston: The Development of Stereotypes," opened at the Northeastern University Gallery.  Partnered by Northeastern’s Irish Studies Program and the African American Master Artists-ln-Residency Program, the exhibit revealed how stereotypes depicting Irish and Blacks through history were strikingly similar, especially in the hands of artists such as Thomas Nast, a 19th century cartoonist know for his virulent portrayals of Irish immigrants and American Blacks.  The event was attended by several dozen guests and included remarks by Black artist Dana Chandler of Northeastern’s African American Master Artists-ln-Residency Program, and scholar Ruth-Ann Harris, director of the university's Irish Studies program.  Chandler said the exhibit would help ‘to point out that there is a rivalry that has been go

President-Elect John F. Kennedy Gives his Famous 'City on a Hill' Speech at the Massachusetts State House on January 9, 1961

Image Courtesy of JFK Librar y On January 9, 1961, President-Elect John F. Kennedy Delivered his now-famous "City on a Hill" speech at the Massachusetts State House before a joint session of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Kennedy was welcomed to the Chamber by Governor John A. Volpe and Senate President John E. Powers of South Boston.   "Fully 1,000 people crammed the House Chamber," reported The Boston Globe, and "Capitol Police estimated that some 5,000 more surrounded the State House  in bitter cold to get a fleeting look at the next president." The event was carried live by all three Boston television stations, and a full pool of radio and print reporters.   During his nine-minute speech, Kennedy addressed the audience as a proud native son, mindful of his family's deep connection to the Commonwealth. "I have welcomed this opportunity to address this historic body, and, through you, the people of Massachusetts to whom

Patrick A. Collins from Cork Becomes Boston's Second Irish-Born Mayor in January 1902

Patrick A. Collins, the second Irish-born Mayor of Boston, was inaugurated on January 6, 1902, at Boston City Hall. He beat incumbent Mayor Thomas N. Hart in what the Boston Post described as "the largest vote ever cast for mayor in Boston."Collins, a resident of South Boston, received 52,046 votes to Hart's 33,076, winning by a plurality of 18,970 votes. In an earlier contest in 1899 when the two men faced off, Hart beat Collins by 2,281 votes, according to the Post. Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan of St. Augustine's Church in South Boston, led the prayer during Collins' swearing-in ceremonies. In his inaugural address, Collins focused on was the city's financial condition and the public debt. He talked about heavy traffic and promised to build a new avenue "in the Fort Point Channel to the northern terminals and docks." He promised improvements to Boston Harbor, with encouragement from Congress from Washington, "to float at all stages of t

South Boston's Ray Flynn Became Mayor of Boston on January 2, 1984

On January 2, 1984, Raymond L. Flynn was sworn in as the 46th Mayor of the City of Boston.  He succeeded Kevin H. White , who decided not to run for another term, having already served four consecutive terms.  Flynn told reporters that when he sat down to write his inaugural speech, the first words that came to mind were, 'you count.'  "I immediately wrote them down right away and underlined them," Flynn said. "Those are the words I want people to remember from my speech." Flynn was officially sworn into the office at the Wang Center before 3,500 people, the largest inaugural gathering for a mayor in the city's history.  Among the guests at the inauguration was his mayoral opponent, Mel King , a former state representative who was the first Black to make it to the finals in the mayoral race.  Flynn greeted and thanked Mel from the podium.  In his speech, Flynn said, "This is a time to break down the walls of bigotry and build a new foundation of ra

On January 2, 1870, John Boyle O'Reilly First Arrived in Boston, Where He Spent the Rest of His Life Defending the Downtrodden

Irish immigrant and fugitive John Boyle O'Reilly first arrived in Boston on January 2, 1870. He never left. For the final two decades of his life, he became one of the city's leading defenders of the downtrodden, while advocating ceaselessly for liberty, freedom and justice that he equated with American ideals. His road to Boston as a final destination was perilous. Born in 1844 in County Meath, Ireland, he was an infant when the infamous Irish Famine devastated Ireland, killing about one million people and sending another two million refugees into exile. As a young man, O'Reilly joined the British Army, "with the object of overthrowing the British monarchy,' wrote his biographer Jeffrey Roche, but he was discovered and charged with treason against the British Crown. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in an Australian penal colony, along with 62 other political prisoners, aboard the Hougoumont and taken to the convict prison in Freemantle, Western Australia.