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Showing posts from February, 2024

Returning from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson is confronted by Suffragette and Irish Protests in Boston

President Wilson on deck of Coast Guard cutter Ossipee, approaching Commonwealth Pier in South Boston, February 24, 1919.    Photo courtesy of UMass/Amherst, University Archives . U.S. President Woodrow Wilson arrived in Boston, Massachusetts aboard the USS George Washington on February 24, 1919, with a series of parades and protests awaiting him.  The president was returning from the Paris Peace Conference in France, where he and other world leaders, generals, diplomats and government officials were trying to broker a post-World War I agreement that would stand the test of time.   At the heart of the conference, especially from the perspective of Ireland and the Irish Diaspora in the United States, was whether the talks would result in freedom and independence for small nations in Europe, including Ireland.  The day Wilson arrived in Boston, a two-day Irish Race Convention was just ending in Philadelphia.  More than 5,000 people attended the convention, discussing how best persuade Wi

Irish Art, Statues and Rare Artifacts at the Massachusetts State House, along Boston's Irish Heritage Trail

  The Massachusetts State House has a number of beautiful and rare works of art and artifacts relating to the Irish-American experience, and is a featured stop along  Boston's Irish Heritage Trail .   The incredible collection of art and artifacts is maintained and curated by the State House Art Commission .  Here is just a selection of items worth seeing the next time you visit the Massachusetts State House.  Irish Flags, 9th Irish Regiment The flags of the famous Massachusetts Fighting 9th Regiment, which fought in all of America's wars, from the Civil War to the Korean War, is in the Hall of Flags at the State House. Mustered into service on June 11, 1861, the regiment was headed by Colonel Thomas Cass (1821-62), an Irish immigrant who organized the Irish immigrant regiment following the Battle of Fort Sumter in April, 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers to defend the Union. Today facsimiles of the flags are on display at

Boston Landmarks Depict Irish and Scots-Irish Heroics in the American Revolution

Irish and Scots-Irish immigrants played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, as evidenced by the number of public landmarks that relate to their heroics and sacrifice. From Commodore John Barry and General John Sullivan to Boston Massacre victim Patrick Carr and the Scots-Irish who fought at Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights, the Irish were front and center during America's battle for independence.   The  Boston Irish Heritage Trail  gives a glimpse of the Revolutionary Irish through landmarks on Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, Granary Burying Ground and Bunker Hill Monument. Many of these landmarks intersect with  Boston's Freedom Trail,  which provides an important overview of Boston's instrumental role in the American Revolution.   Visit the  Boston Common Visitor Information Center  at 137 Tremont Street for a free map of the Irish Heritage Trail, and take a self-guided tour. Here are some Revolutionary landmarks with Irish connections.  Granary Buryi

Frederick Douglass and John Boyle O'Reilly, Allies for Freedom and Liberty

John Boyle O’Reilly and Frederick Douglass were natural allies in 19th century New England, where they aligned on pressing issues of liberty and justice for all.  In the early part of their lives, both men were fugitives, on the run from their captors as they tried to make their way to freedom. Both became writers and used their considerable skills to advocate for their own people, but also for other groups being denied equal rights and freedoms. And both men were powerful and persuasive orators who spoke truth to power even when it went against the grain of public opinion. O’Reilly (1844-1890) was an Irish rebel whom the British exiled to a life imprisonment at a penal colony in Australia. He made a daring escape on a New Bedford whaling ship and eventually reached America, where he settled in Boston in January 1870. As editor and later publisher of The Boston Pilot , he used his considerable skills as a writer to advocate for Ireland’s independence, and for the rights of Blacks, Nat

Boston Mayor John F. Fitzgerald, grandfather of President Kennedy, was born in the North End on February 11, 1863

Photo Courtesy of the Boston Public Library John Fitzgerald, the grandfather of U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was born on February 11, 1863 in Boston's North End, one of 12 children born to Irish immigrant Thomas Fitzgerald of Limerick and Mary Josephine Hannon of Acton, MA. Fitzgerald was an audacious, colorful politician whose melodious singing voice earned him the nickname Honey Fitz. His political career took shape quickly. He worked his way up from the Boston Common Council in 1892 to state senate in 1893. In the congressional primary held in September 1894, Fitzgerald beat sitting Congressman Joseph H. O'Neill, a popular Democrat who had held the seat since 1889. In the final election, Fitzgerald beat Republican challenger, Boston Alderman Jesse Morse Gove, winning by a mere 1,916 votes. His daughter, Rose Fitzgerald , married Joseph P. Kennedy from East Boston, spawning the Kennedy political dynasty that dominated Boston for most of the 20th century. Fitzgeral

Irish Indentured Servants on the Run in 18th Century Boston

  New England Courant, February 8-15, 1725 Thousands of Irish boys and girls came to America in the 1700s as indentured servants. Some of them came voluntarily, while others were kidnapped by marauding British soldiers and sent over as cheap labor in the colonies.  As indentured servants, many Irish and Scots gained passage to America by agreeing to work in servitude for up to seven years. But once they got here, many of them quickly absconded from their masters, as evidenced by the number of classified ads in the first half of the 18th century, like this ad for Mary Farrel in the  New England Courant  on January 29, 1725 Little is known about Mary Farrel, apart from the ad, which describes her as a ‘runaway Irish servant maid’ with a reward for her return. When she absconded on a cold winter night, Farrel was wearing only ‘a black Griffet Gown, an old grey Petticoat, and a pair of Ticken Shoes with red heels.’  Sometimes the runaway servants were caught and punished, only to escape ag