Thomas Carty, Ireland’s reigning Junior Heavyweight boxing champion, visited relatives in Boston this summer and had a chance to train with some of our region’s finest during his visit. Carty, 16, is a member of the Dublin’s famed Corinthians Boxing Club and, thus far, has chalked up an impressive 17-2 record.
While visiting Boston for 10 days in June, Carty stayed with his uncle Eugene McCarthy of Braintree. Friends connected young Thomas with Timmy Stanton, co-owner of Braintree’s TNT Boxing, who arranged for the young boxer to have a free pass to train at his club throughout his visit. Carty also visited Dorchester’s Adams Corner, where he sampled the fare at Greenhill’s Bakery and got a tour of the Eire Pub.
Planning a business trip to the US? Read this first
Q. I plan to make a couple of short business trips from Ireland to the US in the near future, to meet with contacts, attend an industry convention, and probably do some contract negotiation. Can I do this without applying for a visa beforehand?
A. This should be possible, depending on a few factors. The US government operates what is known as the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) for nationals of a number of friendly countries, including Ireland. This program allows travel to the US for up to 90 days for business or pleasure, without applying for a visitor’s visa beforehand. Citizens of Canada and Bermuda are treated essentially the same as those of VWP countries for purposes of short-term visits to the US.
So, first of all, you must be a citizen (not just a resident) of one of the VWP countries. For example, a citizen of Poland temporarily residing in Ireland would not be eligible to travel under the VWP but would need to apply for a visitor’s visa instead, whereas a citizen of Ireland temporarily located in Poland could make use of the VWP.
Second, the business activity involved must fit within the US government’s definition. This does include the activities you mentioned, as well as travel for the purpose of conducting litigation. The permissible activity does not include “employment” (which can be loosely understood as doing work for pay that an American could be doing) while in the US. To work at a job in the US one needs a temporary work visa such as the H1-B or other employment authorization from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. There are gray areas involved in the definitions of “business” versus “employment,” so if there is any doubt you should consult an immigration lawyer before planning to travel under the VWP.
Third, travelers from VWP countries also need to be personally eligible to take advantage of the VWP. Those ineligible to enter under the VWP because of a visa overstay or other problem, for example, would have to apply for a B-1 (business visitor) visa at the local US Consulate. The permissible business activities are the same for a B-1 visa as with the VWP. The B-1 visa application process takes time and requires a fee, but it has a couple of advantages: it can be granted for up to six months and can be extended, unlike the VWP, which is strictly limited to a maximum of 90 days. Also, a B-1 visa holder can in certain circumstances apply to change status in the US to that of another visa such as a J-1 exchange visa; such status changes are not permitted under the VWP.
US immigration and consular officials can question a traveler both about the business activities planned and the intention to make the stay in the US a temporary one. So, whether traveling under the VWP or applying for a B-1 visa, you should be prepared to document your business trip (your agenda, travel and hotel arrangements, conference programs, contact information, etc.) and your intention to return home within the time allowed (a return air ticket, proof that you are still employed at home, have family and property there, etc.). People used to believe that showing up in a business suit with a briefcase and business cards in one’s pockets virtually guaranteed entry for short business trips. Post 9/11, this is not necessarily the case. So travelers must be prepared for more scrutiny of their intentions.
For a free, confidential consultation about this or any other aspect of immigration law, visit one of our weekly legal clinics as advertised in The Irish Reporter.
Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. Areas of law are rapidly changing. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Department of State regularly amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.
Harrington’s in Wakefield offers: spirit aplenty on Wednesday nights
Another in the occasional series that profiles the wealth and diversity of regularly occurring Irish and Celtic music sessions in, or reasonably near, the Greater Boston area.
Harrington’s Food and Spirits
Where: 17 Water St., Wakefield
When: Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.
Location isn’t necessarily a big consideration for session-goers – compared to concerns like “How many people will fit into the place?” or “Can you hear yourself at all?” – but Terry Weir feels it’s definitely a virtue of the session he organizes and co-leads at Harrington’s.
Wakefield, he notes, is a pretty quick jaunt via Route 95/128 or Route 93, about a half-hour or so from Boston proper (the 8:30 start time theoretically mitigates the likelihood of running into rush-hour traffic). And you pass a fair amount of open, green space, plus Crystal Lake or Lake Quannapowitt, on your way to the pub, which is right near the town center – quite a pleasant drive for a summer’s evening.
“It’s a quiet little corner in the ‘burbs,” says Weir, who lives one town over in Reading. “You might not expect to find an Irish session here. But I think people like that; it’s nice to have something a little different.”
The set-up at Harrington’s is conducive to a more intimate brand of session. Adjacent to the entrance in the pub’s northeast corner is a small section, slightly raised and partly enclosed by a plain but aesthetically agreeable banister, that accommodates perhaps six or seven musicians in an L-shaped configuration. This area is right up against one of the pub’s two picture windows, and passersby can stop for a look and a listen, perhaps enough to convince them to go inside.
Weir, who plays an assortment of instruments including fiddle, tenor banjo, bouzouki, and guitar, is a veteran of the Boston Irish music scene and thus was understandably intrigued several years ago when he heard rumors of a pub in Wakefield that was featuring acoustic music performances. One day while running errands, Weir popped into Harrington’s and chatted with co-owner Dan O’Neill about the possibility of adding an Irish session to their live music calendar.
“Dan and the other owners have been terrific to us,” says Weir of O’Neill and his wife Lisa, husband and wife Maryellen and Greg Haberland, and Brendan O’Reilley (“Harrington” is an ancestral name in the family of Lisa and Maryellen, who are sisters). “For them, it adds some authenticity to the pub, and they feel that’s important; it’s not just the bottom line that matters.”
The first session began on the Wednesday following St. Patrick’s Day of that year, 2005, and Harrington’s has since become a favored destination in particular for many Irish music aficionados living north of Boston.
“When you have something new going on, of course you’re going to wonder how it’ll play out over time,” recalls Weir. “During the first months I thought, ‘What happens in the summer? This is a bedroom community, so will everyone take off?’ But as it turned out, people in the area also would have family or friends visiting, and this is where they’d take them.”
Like most any session taking place regularly over a considerable period of time, Weir says, Harrington’s has had “its ups and downs” as its character has developed and various other factors have come into play (demographics, economics, habits, etc.).
“At first, it seemed like we had half of Boston coming here,” he quips. “On the one hand, it was good to see that people were interested, but a really big session wasn’t going to work here. We wanted to strike a balance, where you have a good quality of music without being snobbish about it. That can be a dilemma, as most any session leader can tell you: You either wind up alienating somebody, or if you just open it up, you’re going to get every egg-shaker sitting in” – a reference to inexperienced musicians whose obliviously enthusiastic participation tends to detract from a session.
“I think we’ve been able to achieve that balance. The level of playing is high enough that musicians feel challenged – but we’ve never asked anyone to leave.”
Concertina player Emily Peterson, a Harrington’s regular and occasional co-leader, agrees: “There is not a huge sense of ownership or entitlement here. The session is by no means ‘anti-beginner.’ But you definitely see that people playing at Harrington’s know their way around the music.”
Peterson’s observation is borne out by the patter among the musicians on one recent Wednesday night: informed discussions about sources and variations of particular tunes, as well as recollections – and even a few dead-on (and hilarious) impersonations – of notable Irish music personalities.
That’s all part of the reason why Bob and Jen Strom, mainstays of the session scene that in recent years has sprang up on the North Shore (in places like Salem, Beverly, and Gloucester, to name a few), like to swing by Harrington’s every so often.
“We’ve found Harrington’s very friendly and accepting,” says Bob. “A very cozy place to play, relax and talk.”
Pub sessions usually have their unique idiosyncrasies, whether it’s related to the decor, the ambience, the mix of people (musicians and non-musicians), or combinations of some or all of these. At Harrington’s, even as the session musicians are churning out jigs, reels, hornpipes, and the like, overhead they can hear the tread of feet from the Irish set dancing lessons that are regularly given Wednesdays in the pub’s function room upstairs (pre-recorded music is used for these; there’s little or no bleed-through into the session).
But Weir and the other Harrington’s devotees don’t seem to find this overlap bothersome. What’s more, when the lessons are over at around 9:30, the dancers typically stop in the pub for a pint or two before heading home, and their presence – not to mention their applause, whoops and other expressions of approval – gives the session an infusion of energy.
“It’s a good little pick-me-up,” notes Weir, exchanging pleasantries with some of the dancers as they file by on their way to find seats. “There’s a lot of spirit in here on a Wednesday night, between the music and the dance. Like I said, you might not expect to find something like this in a quiet little suburban town, and that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable.”
Tommy Fleming to sing at City Hall in Peabody Sept. 7, 8
By Sean Smith
Special to the Reporter
Tommy Fleming, whose powerful, passionate interpretations of songs old and new, traditional and contemporary, have made him one of Ireland’s most popular vocalists, will perform two shows next month at Peabody City Hall.
Fleming will give concerts on Sept. 7 and 8, both at 7 p.m., in city hall’s Frank L. Wiggin Auditorium. Tickets for the shows are $30 (orchestra tables), $25 (balcony tables) and $20 (balcony seats). For information, call the Office of the Mayor at 978-538-5704.
An international success whose albums have consistently gone platinum, multi-platinum and gold, Fleming – Irish Music Magazine’s “Best Irish Male Singer” in 2005 – has played in sold-out concert halls around the world and made frequent radio and television appearances, including on PBS, for whom he is recording a new TV special. The Sligo native and youngest of six children also has seen his life shaped by forces other than music, including a near-tragedy early in his solo career and a formational six-month sojourn in Africa at a time when he was enjoying major popularity.
Fleming came to the attention of many Irish music fans in the 1990s while touring with composer, songwriter, and producer Phil Coulter, whom he’d met while performing at a charity event. It was during his association with Coulter that Fleming made his first visit to Boston.
“I performed in Symphony Hall in 1993 – one of the most memorable performances of my life at one of the biggest venues on that tour,” he recalls. “When I returned again with Phil in 1996, I had some time to get to know the place better. I loved the architecture of Boston and spent hours exploring around the city. I even met with a school friend and paid a visit to the ‘Cheers’ bar. I have returned to Boston a few times since, but not nearly enough, so the opportunity to perform in Peabody was a welcome request – I promise to do many more concerts in Boston!”
Fleming went on to do a stint as part of the traditional band De Dannan, appearing on their album “Hibernian Rhapsody.” He became a solo act in 1996 and over the next two years recorded his first two albums, the second of which (“Restless Spirit,” released in 1998) entered the Irish charts at number five and went on to achieve double platinum sales.
But having established his solo career, he spent most of 1999 recovering from an auto accident that had left him with a broken neck and other serious injuries, forcing the cancellation of a string of concert dates. It was an experience that provided him with some important lessons, says Fleming.
“The car accident made me realize the value of life and how important that is. I stopped focusing on things that didn’t really matter and began to appreciate the special things in life and, most importantly, health. I had no idea for quite some time if I would ever walk again. I certainly didn’t think I would be able to resume a singing career, and luckily I have been given a chance at both. It took me at least five years to get back to the point I was at before the accident, but I didn’t rush it; I appreciated the fact that I had another chance.”
Fleming recently got a fresh perspective on that period of his life when his mother died earlier this year. Looking through her prayer book, Fleming came across a photo that had been taken of his wrecked car after the accident. “I can’t imagine why she kept it. I thought all evidence from this time was gone,” he says. “But maybe she was reminding herself and thanking God for my recovery.”
Finally, he recovered enough to begin recording his next album, “The Contender,” a return to his folkier, more traditional roots, with songs by Irish writers such as Jimmy McCarthy, Christy Hennessy, Micky O Connell, and John Hurley, and classic numbers like “Danny Boy,” Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times” and “Black is the Colour.” Released in 2000, the album went multi-platinum, launching tours of Japan, the US, and Europe.
After completing work on his next album, “Sand and Water” – which included his renditions of songs by Paul Brady, Tom Waits, and Dan Fogelberg, among others – Fleming made a decision that surprised even close family members and friends. He spent six months working as a field operative for an aid agency in Sudan, helping to provide food and medical assistance to malnourished people, especially children, caught up in war and famine.
“I really went to just simply get away, because I felt things were at an all-time low in my career and that I was surrounded by all the wrong people,” he says. His odyssey to Africa began less than fortuitously – he started his trip the day after 9/11 – but after a few days he felt certain he had done the right thing. “I fell in love with Africa, and the time I spent there was the most rewarding in my life. I learned a lot of lessons about how happy people can be, even when they have nothing but the clothes they stand up in. It makes you appreciate small things in life. I have promised myself I will go back there, and that I will do.”
Fleming returned from Sudan in time for the release of “Sand and Water,” and resumed his singing career. In December of 2004, he staged a one-of-a-kind event at the Basilica in Knock, Co. Mayo, which has played host to Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, as well as millions of pilgrims for more than a century. The CD recording of the “Voice of Hope” concert, which featured Fleming’s renditions of uplifting songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “From a Distance,” and “Bright Blue Hope,” went platinum, and the concert DVD was shown in Ireland and across the United States.
He has continued to tour and record since then, to the delight of a world-wide contingent of listeners, his appearances including a performance at the 2007 ICONS Festival at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England. That same year saw Fleming record another live concert extravaganza, “A Journey Home,” a double CD-DVD tracing the evolution of Irish music from Thomas Moore to U2. The production was aired on PBS in the US in 2007 and 2008.
Fleming is slated to record a TV special for PBS this coming February for broadcast next June. The show will be “The Irish-American Songbook,” he explains, comprising American and Irish songs and featuring old classics from both sides of the Atlantic as well as some new, contemporary material. At the moment, special guests for the show are being confirmed – he promises they will be “very special.”
More information on Tommy Fleming is available at his website, tommyfleming.net.
Volunteers sought for Haven’s ‘Build It Week’ in Haiti project
By Elizabeth Murray
Special to the Reporter
Non-profit organization Haven U.S. is seeking volunteers for its ‘Build It Week’ program in Leogane, Haiti, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1. Volunteers will help build houses in the area struck by the 2010 earthquake – a disaster that affected more than two million people.
Set up in 2011 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, Haven U.S. is the American branch of Haven, an Irish non-governmental, non-political and non-religious organization that works to build sustainable communities in Haiti. Haven was founded in late 2008 and launched in 2009 by Leslie Buckley and his wife Carmel after Leslie had traveled to Haiti for the first time in 2004 on business.
Appalled by the living conditions in Haiti, Buckley founded Haven, which has been sending Irish and now American volunteers to Haiti ever since. Through the program, local Haitian people are trained, up-skilled and employed, jobs are created, and schools, playgrounds, community buildings and houses are built by Haven volunteers. According to its website havenpartnership.com, Haven has trained over 3,000 Haitians in construction, agriculture, hygiene promotion, water and sanitation and solar power installation and maintenance. Haven also employs expatriate and local staff members based across Haiti in Port au Prince, Gonaives and Ouanaminthe on a full-time basis.
The need for aid in Haiti has been especially heavy since the earthquake that hit Haiti’s capital city, Port au Prince in January 2010. Since then, Haven has been working in the affected areas providing emergency relief to those most in need.
This will be the organization’s sixth ‘Build It Week,’ the latest one having occurred in May 2012. Sarah Fitzpatrick, the director of Haven U.S., based in New York City, said this was a smaller ‘Build It Week’ as only 45 volunteers traveled to Haiti (40 from Ireland, 5 from the US). In November 2011, 300 volunteers traveled to Haiti and built 54 permanent houses in Leogane, an area southwest of Port-au-Prince considered the epicenter of the earthquake.
On previous trips to Haiti, Fitzpatrick said volunteers have worked with Haitian residents to decide types, sizes and colors of the accommodations built and even employed many of them on their projects. The goal is to build what the local communities need most.
“They’ve been really positive,” Fitzpatrick said. “Any time we’ve come down they’ve been really welcoming. . . We pretty much take from them what experience they already have.”
This November, Haven U.S. volunteers will join forces with Haven volunteers from Ireland and from Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project to build a targeted 100 houses during the week. Habitat for Humanity will supply 500 volunteers, and Haven U.S. is looking to recruit 100 American volunteers as well.
Fitzpatrick said the volunteers will live in very basic accommodations – basically a “tented village,” she said – and would be working to build houses from around 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Fitzpatrick mentioned volunteers could be anyone, and on a recent trip, there were three different generations of Irish volunteers represented.
“No previous experience is required, though it’s a benefit,” Fitzpatrick said. “We do have volunteers from all walks of life. . . Our youngest volunteer was 16 years of age and our oldest was 73.”
Volunteers are required to raise $5000 before traveling to Haiti to cover the cost of flights, accommodations, food and house building materials. Fitzpatrick said the money used for the house building materials comes solely from the funds volunteers raise.
Though the recruitment process has only just begun, Fitzpatrick is hoping to get the ball rolling over the summer. So far, she said a few people have expressed interest in the project. An information meeting for interested prospective volunteers will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25 at the Haven U.S. headquarters at 575 5th Avenue in New York City, N.Y. at the Navillus Contracting Offices.
Fitzpatrick said people should volunteer with Haven U.S. in Haiti because she thinks it is a very positive experience for anybody, “particularly anybody that’s never traveled outside the U.S. before and wants to get involved in volunteer activities,” she said.
“I just think it’s a very unique experience,” Fitzpatrick added. “It’s something that everybody should try at least once in their life. People [in Haiti] are living in the most abject poverty, and you get to spend a week of your life getting to experience something you would probably not get to experience anywhere else.”
For those who cannot attend the July 25 meeting and are interested in volunteering, please contact Sarah Fitzpatrick via email (email@example.com) or phone (917-561-8044), or visit www.havenpartnership.org for more information.