Tracking (from the inside) life in an Irish American political family

Boston Irish contributor Larry Donnelly’s new book, The Bostonian: Life in an Irish American Political Family, will be released on Oct. 15 by one of Ireland’s leading publishers, Gill Books.  Speaking to Boston Irish, Donnelly said that “writing a book that is a memoir and more was equally a labour of love and a welcome distraction in 2020 and 2021.”

In the book, Donnelly tells the story of his family’s rise in the world of Boston and Massachusetts politics since emigrating from the west of Ireland.  He also reflects upon his own upbringing in East Milton and early career in law and politics before relocating to his ancestral home county to take up an academic post in the School of Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2001.

Since then, in addition to founding and directing the law school’s well-regarded clinical legal education programme, Donnelly has become one of Ireland’s leading media commentators on politics, current affairs and law on both sides of the Atlantic.  

In The Bostonian, he describes the cultural differences between the two countries, analyses US and Irish politics and considers the future of what he calls “the sacred relationship between the two places I am lucky to call home.”  He says that, while the book examines some weighty topics, “there is no shortage of personal anecdotes and mishaps recounted, as well as tales passed down through my family, that I think readers will find interesting and humorous.”

Caitríona Perry, RTÉ’s former Washington correspondent and current anchor of the main evening news, says of The Bostonian: “From grassroots insight into local Boston politics to informed analysis of the national polarised picture to transatlantic love stories, this book is entertaining, informative and passionate.  A must-read for fans of US politics, Irish American relations and immigration tales.”

And Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen observes that “the political journey of Larry Donnelly’s family, and in particular his own political and cultural odyssey, is a roadmap to the Irish immigrant experience in America, where tribal loyalties eventually gave way to demographic realities.  His journey back to Ireland, where he made his life, reveals that the phenomenon of what social scientists call ‘third-generation’ return in which grandchildren of immigrants identify with the old country, is rooted in DNA as much as cultural identity. 

Larry Donnelly’s ability to see America through Irish eyes, and Ireland through American eyes, is remarkable and revealing.  This is as much a social history as a personal memoir.”

The Bostonian: Life in an Irish American Political Family is available for pre-order at

Boston Irish will publish an excerpt from the book in its Christmas edition and online at There are plans for a Boston launch in early January.