BIR History

In mid-February 1920, people had gathered around a simple gravestone in a New Bedford cemetery where a tall, thin, bespectacled man bent down to lay a wreath in front of the marker. Etched on the face of the stone was the name of “George S. Anthony,”... Read more
Third in a four-part series. In Boston and other Irish-American centers in March 1916, few knew how close to armed rebellion the Irish Republican Brotherhood and an array of other Irish men and women in Ireland stood. Nationalists, socialists, workers,... Read more
Second in a four-part series. In early 1916, Ireland seethed on the verge of rebellion against Britain. The debate over “Home Rule,” which would give Ireland a constricted version of independence from the Parliament in London, had been argued for... Read more
First in a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. A century ago, a defining moment – the defining moment for many historians – helped set the stage for the future for Ireland. As January 1916 dawned, the... Read more
John Kerry’s name has often appeared in this newspaper – not always accompanied by plaudits. Kerry came to this writer’s mind in recent days during the deserved outcry against Donald Trump’s outrageous comments about US Sen. John McCain’s service and... Read more
Would architect Patrick Keely be spinning in his grave at the changes awaiting his magnificent Holy Trinity Church? Or would the Tipperary-born builder understand that times change, and be grateful that his artistic vision will remain at least partly... Read more
Classiebawn, the home of Lord Mountbatten in Mullaghmore, County Sigo, was built in the 1860’s by twice Prime Minister of England, Lord Palmerston. Prince Charles will be visiting Sligo this month where Lord Mountbatten was assassinated in 1979. DUBLIN –... Read more
On St. Patrick’s Day of 1915, a monument began to take shape in Jamaica Plain The city of Boston owns the “house that James Michael Curley” built on the Jamaicaway in Jamaica Plain. Construction on the Curley mansion began on St. Patrick’s Day, 1915... Read more
The discovery of a hidden time capsule is always intriguing. To great fanfare a few weeks ago, the opening of a 1795 trove discovered by workers repairing a leak at the Massachusetts State House did not disappoint. The capsule, a link to the present... Read more
Just in time for the centenary of the Great War of 1914-18 (World War I), the publication in English of Gabriel Chevallier’s novel “Le Peur” (1930) is drawing deserved attention. Translated by Malcolm Imrie as “Fear” and available in the handsome New... Read more
A recent stop at The Last Hurrah whiskey bar at the Parker House (now Omni Parker House) got me thinking about the classic novel it is named after, a personal favorite and one synonymous with the battling “boyos and Brahmins” of yesteryear. Even now, it... Read more
In 1847, a crisis unfolded nearly daily along Boston’s docks. Leaking, lurching vessels aptly dubbed “coffin ships” unloaded hordes of ragged Irish passengers who had fled the Great Famine, An Gorta Mor. Some 25,000 arrived in “Black ‘47,” and with... Read more
No matter what an Irish Americans’s political persuasion might be, the public and political fallout of President Obama’s executive order on immigration should engender some personal and historical soul-searching. From the trenches of the Tea Party and... Read more
“They” might have wondered whether five male judges sitting on the United States Supreme Court of 2014 are wearing black robes or cassocks. “They” were the Know-Nothing Party of the 1840s-1850s America, the driving force of a Nativist movement that... Read more
The deal is completely legal. Medical-device titan Medtronic will soon complete a $42.9 billion deal to gobble up Massachusetts-based outfit Covidien. The swollen pact benefits Ireland’s economy, pays off big for two companies’ executives and... Read more
BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF Once, the Boston Irish knew what it was to be “wetbacks.” Of course, the epithets that hateful, narrow-minded Nativists and “Know Nothings” of the 1840s and 1850s employed to deride Irish immigrants were “Paddies, Bridgets,... Read more
On March 17, Boston will be awash in St. Patrick’s Day revelry. All nonsense such as green beer, green plastic derbies, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” badges, and faces reflecting various stages of inebriation and emblazoned with painted shamrocks or the Irish... Read more
by Peter F. Stevens BIR Staff In 1847, a crisis unfolded nearly daily along Boston’s docks. Leaking, lurching vessels aptly dubbed “coffin ships” unloaded hordes of ragged Irish passengers who had fled the Great Famine, An Gorta Mor. Some 25,000 arrived... Read more
BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF “What’s Broken Can Be Fixed,” the full-page Red Sox ad blares. To launch that Fenway fix, the team’s brass has turned to an old friend with a Hibernian surname. Tito’s erstwhile pitching coach, John Farrell, pried loose from... Read more
By John Rattigan Special to the BIR In the fall of 1862, the second year of the Civil War, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee undertook to invade Maryland. This decision culminated in the bloody Battle of Antietam where Lee... Read more