BIR History

For Boston-Irish titan John Boyle O’Reilly, August served up both triumph and tragedy BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF At least twice in the life of John Boyle O’Reilly, August had proven to be a time of triumph. August 1876 had brought the news that one of... Read more
In giving his blessing at the inaugural ceremonies for the Great Hunger Memorial, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley compared the 19th-century Irish children who arrived on “orphan ships” to “those children at the borders of our country who are fleeing... Read more
Following are excerpts from the prepared text for Mayor Martin Walsh’s remarks at the dedication of the Deer Island Great Hunger Memorial: Thank you, Gene O’Flaherty; Cardinal O’Malley and clergy; Consul General Quinlan, as well as your predecessors,... Read more
Presented at the Deer Island Great Hunger Memorial dedication May 25, 2019 Copyright, John McColgan An Gorta Mor, Ireland’s “Great Hunger”, saw an estimated 1.5 million people die of starvation and disease. Another two million emigrated. Many of these... Read more
The accompanying article was first published in the Boston Irish Reporter in the summer of 2004. Its focus was a new book by Susan Gedutis that spoke to a time in the city’s history when Irish music and dance had plenty of spaces in which to flower and... Read more
The accompanying article was first published in the Boston Irish Reporter in the summer of 2004. Its focus was a new book by Susan Gedutis that spoke to a time in the city’s history when Irish music and dance had plenty of spaces in which to flower and... Read more
As a teenager interested in history overall, and Irish history in particular, I used to pester my father, born a subject of an English king on the island of Ireland in the first decade of the 20th century, about what life was like for him in Oughterard, a... Read more
As a teenager interested in history overall, and Irish history in particular, I used to pester my father, born a subject of an English king on the island of Ireland in the first decade of the 20th century, about what life was like for him in Oughterard, a... Read more
As we bid adieu to 2018, a pair of Irish-Americans were saying their goodbyes to the denizens of the political fever swamp that is Washington D.C. Soon to be a former speaker of the House, Paul Ryan chose to slink out of town with his reputation in... Read more
Seasonal images of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians gathered at long wooden tables piled with platters of food abound. You might think that Thanksgiving traditions do not reflect anything Irish, but you would be wrong in that assumption. In fact,... Read more
“Trust” them. If you have a preexisting condition, your fate may literally rest in the hands of an Irish American judge whom an Irish-American senator sent to the US Supreme Court with her pivotal confirmation vote. That senator, Susan Collins, of... Read more
The tragic wrecking at sea of the Brig St. John 169 years ago is an event that resonates especially in 2018 with America tearing along its political, racial, ethnic, and religious seams. The catastrophe engulfed desperate Boston-bound immigrants off the... Read more
On Aug. 10, 1890, stunning news spread through Boston and across the nation: John Boyle O’Reilly was dead at the age of 46. During that summer, exhaustion had plagued this seemingly indefatigable man. While serving as a judge at the National Irish... Read more
This month marks the 155th anniversary of a controversial and violent chapter in Boston’s annals. In July 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, the city’s Irish ignited draft riots when they rose up in rage against the class and ethnic unfairness of the... Read more
Immigrant Col. Thomas Cass and his fellow Boston Irishmen proved they would readily fight and die to protect the union BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF In American military annals, “the Fighting 69th” New York Regiment is steeped in legend. Comprised... Read more
For the Boston Pilot, April resonates with history. For the Boston Marathon, held each Patriots Day, this April brings a mystery that remains unresolved. Irish Americans loom at the center of both milestones. Rescuing the Pilot from Ruin In 1876, John... Read more
When it comes to the immigrants of yesteryear – especially Irish immigrants to America’s shores –historical distortions and outright lies abound. A huge number of Irish Americans refuse to accept any comparisons between their sacred ancestors from the... Read more
Second of Two Parts It was Jan. 16, 1908, and the ambulance had clattered to a stop at the Relief Station Hospital (part of the old Boston City Hospital) on Harrison Avenue. Inside, Boston Police Patrolman John T. Lynch hovered between life and death.... Read more
On Jan. 16, 1908, BPD officer Lynch made the ultimate sacrifice First of two-parts “For God’s sake, keep him away and don’t let him shoot me again!” shouted Patrolman John T. Lynch at Officer John P. Doyle, who had rushed across icy, snow-cloaked Arch... Read more
BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF At the moment that Martin J. Walsh took his second oath of office as Boston’s mayor on New Year's Day, he further entrenches his status in the long line of Boston Irishman to hold the office. It was 115 years ago, Jan. 4,... Read more

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