Begorrah, you better believe it: Bostonians care about Ireland

Most Irish Americans, and certainly all those Americans who were born in Ireland and are now living in the Boston area, deeply care about their Irish Heritage. There are dozens upon dozens of serious Irish organizations in the Boston metropolitan area whose members are devoted to Ireland and our heritage. Most of them not only celebrate their heritage, but they also try to instill Irish values in their children through dance, sport, and cultural events.

The local American Ireland Fund is probably the largest in terms of dollars raised for Ireland, with $10,000 to $25,000 tables at its annual black tie dinner in Boston. Basic admission is $1,000 per ticket. They have been doing this for over 35 years. It is the grandest Irish event in Boston but unfortunately far beyond most people’s means.

The Irish American Partnership, now 28 years old, has its national headquarters in downtown Boston with nearly 3,000 members located in 35 states throughout the country. The Partnership has just finished a most successful year, having sent support to nearly one hundred schools and universities in Ireland, North and South.

Says Mary McAleer, the executive director of the Partnership: “The more they know about us, the more they want to assist our work in Ireland.”

The Partnership has its focus on education under the belief that a strong, highly educated Irish population will serve Ireland well in the years ahead. The American Ireland Fund makes grants to many different organizations in Ireland and has made a significant difference where its has been active.

Two smaller elite Boston organizations, the Erie Society and The Charitable Irish, have celebrated their Irish heritage for hundreds of years. The revered Boston Clover Club has been in existence since 1883 and meets three times a year.

The Irish government in Dublin plays a hand in all of this by each year making generous grants to at least three area Irish groups – The Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, the Dorchester-based Irish Pastoral Centre, and The Irish International Immigration Center in Boston.

There are also the Boston Ireland Business Association (BIBA) and the relatively new “In Boston” organization that has an active social calendar. “In Boston” is part of a national network.

I could go on and list the Irish American clubs like the ones in Duxbury, West Roxbury, and Billerica. Or attempt to name all the Irish pubs and restaurants in the area that benefit from their association with Ireland. While I’m at it I could pass on the unproven rumor that the Milton cemetery has the highest number of Irish names on its gravestones than any cemetery in the United States, which simply shows just how Irish our neighborhood is. We even have own newspaper, The Boston Irish Reporter.

Perhaps the best known of all Boston Irish heritage events is the famous South Boston Saint Patrick’s Day Breakfast and the following parade.

Down on Cape Cod is one of the most active and fun Irish organizations I know, The “Sons of Erin” in West Yarmouth, with over 1,500 dues-paying members. They have many social activities and are open every night on Route 28.

The point of all of this is to suggest that readers become involved in one or more of these Irish activities. They are all worthwhile organizations, run by wonderful people who will welcome your participation.

And now is the time to become more aware of your choices. Check their websites and decide what your participation might be. Saint Patrick’s Day is coming next month – for many of us this is our feast day. Join the celebration.