BIR History

‘These thoughtless, head-strong, imprudent people’ : In June 1847, the mass arrival of Famine Irish ignited Nativist resistance in cold-roast Boston In June 1847, Boston simmered with political, cultural, and religious unrest. A crisis was unfolding along... Read more
From Stately Church to Status Symbol On March 10, 1861, a throng gathered on Harrison Avenue to dedicate a new church for Boston’s growing population of Irish-Catholics and German-Catholics. Bishop John B. Fitzpatrick, the Irish immigrant and... Read more
In early March 1776, Gen. George Washington rode out to Dorchester and reined in at the farm of Captain John Homans, who lived in “the upper end of town.” Homans’s acreage was full of white birch, and Washington ordered his troops to cut down the trees so... Read more
Recalling a Kilkenny patriot and rebel on 250th anniversary of  the Boston Tea Party Near 6 p.m. on Dec. 16, 1773, thousands of people spilled from Boston’s Old South Meetinghouse into the frigid early evening air and onto rain-slicked cobblestones. At... Read more
A new guided-missile destroyer will honor the name ofMedal of Honor Recipient Capt. Thomas G. Kelley      “It is a tremendous honor, and I am truly humbled…”    The modest words are those of Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain (ret.) Thomas... Read more
The following is taken from the recently published “Untold Tales of the Boston Irish,” by Peter F. Stevens, a longtime contributor to Boston Irish. At 5:45 p.m. on September 9, 1919, as the Tuesday evening shift of the Boston Police began, 1,117 of the... Read more
    by Peter F. StevensBoston Irish Staff It’s off—again. This March, the skirl of pipes, the beat of drums, and the tramp of thousands of feet will not echo above the streets of Southie. For the second straight year, Covid-19 has brought the traditional... Read more
The word “merry” seems out of place as this year’s Christmas season approaches at the height of the pandemic. Still, hope can be found in the imminent availability of Covid-19 vaccines.  In 1918, the first year of the Spanish Flu pandemic, Boston and its... Read more
Arriving in Cork, 175 years ago, Frederick Douglass was greeted with a song, whose refrain rang 'Céad Míle Fáilte to the Stranger, Free from Bondage, Chains & Danger'. Today we reaffirm that welcome with 'Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!' an@aaidnetwork... Read more
 The brief meeting was one of titans. One was a Black abolitionist and escaped slave on the rise, the other an aging, legendary statesman dubbed Ireland’s “Liberator.” A mythic description of the moment that Frederick Douglass and Daniel O’Connell crossed... Read more
In June and July of 1837, trouble simmered in Boston, and the unrest exploded on the sultry afternoon of June 11 near and along Broad Street downtown. Fire Engine Company 20 had just returned to its station on East Street, having quelled a blaze in... Read more
When St. Patrick set foot in Ireland in the 5th century AD, he faced an uncertain future in a little-known country. Warring Celts were scattered in tribal groups across the island, ruled with iron might by five provincial kings. Eerie dolmen monuments and... Read more
The tragedy of British arrogance towards Catholic Ireland over the past many centuries has never been more thoroughly revealed than in the official government report issued on the “Bloody Sunday” shootings and killings in Derry, Northern Ireland, on Jan.... Read more
                                        Deer Island Great Hunger Memorial An Gorta Mór – Ireland’s ‘Great Hunger’ – saw an estimated 1.5 million people die of starvation and disease between 1845 and 1852.  Another 2 million emigrated, and many of them... Read more
BIR History From 1800 to 1850, Irish immigrants could scarcely have picked a worse place than Boston to celebrate Christmas. The Puritans loathed “Popish” Yuletide rituals so much that, in 1659, the Massachusetts General Court had enacted laws against... Read more
170 years ago, tragedy engulfed two coffin ships; and the local citizens braved the waves to help BY PETER F. STEVENS BIR STAFF On Memorial Day of this year, a throng of some 600 people gathered at the dedication of a permanent memorial on Deer Island... Read more
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