November 1, 2009
The first-ever Adams Corner Irish Heritage Festival, staged on the Sunday of the Columbus Day weekend, was a triumph on every count - as a community-building neighborhood event, and as evidence of a strong and vibrant community of residents who are proud of where they live.
We prominently displayed a front page photo of the event by our own Harry Brett on the front page of the next week's Dorchester Reporter, and it showed the streets around Adams Street and Gallivan Boulevard crowded with scores of happy folks.
There are many remarkable elements to this triumphal event: First, it was conceived, developed, and executed solely by a team of volunteers, folks with ties to the neighborhood, either directly as residents or as members of the business community that serves them; secondly, there was no charge for attending - all the music, dancing, and other events were free for the asking; and third, many people stepped up to help defray the expenses. Large donations came from Gerard's Adams Corner and Greenhills Bakery, but several dozen other merchants made significant donations of money and/or the time and talent of their employees. (The Reporter newspapers published several advance stories, and donated advertising space with a value of several thousand dollars.) In a next-day story on Oct. 12, The Boston Globe called it "a grand day for wearing the green in Dorchester."
The committee was co-chaired by Sean Weir, president of the Cedar Grove civic group, and John O'Toole, a past president. Any profits from the event will benefit of St. Brendan's Parish.
In an e-mailed statement to his committee members after the festival, an elated Weir said, "Thank you all for your help on putting on a great day; it was a pleasure working with all of you. From our elected officials to all the businesses in the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood, we could not have pulled this off without you. Thank you all again. And a special thanks to our committee members. I cannot say it enough."
The committee had been meeting weekly since last spring, and they kept in touch by e-mail. We were able to download some of their names: Gerard Adomunes, Katie Brown, Jody Bulman, Amy Cardinale, Michael Christopher, Thomas Cifrino , Father John Connolly, Maureen Connolly , Stephen J. Connolly , Jack Doherty, Paul Duffley, Gary Eisan, Councillor Maureen Feeney, Marty Foley, Tim Foley, Victoria Foley, Alan Gibbons, George Gilpin, Justin Holmes, Mary Joyce Morris, Mairin Keady, Mary Kelly, Peter Kelly, Martin Lydon, Aidan Maher, Dr. Robert Marsh, Patrick McDonough, David Merritt, Bob Norton, Pat O'Neil, John O Toole, Pat O'Brien, Dermot Quinn, Lauren Smith, Ann Walsh, and Jack Cunningham.
It truly was an excellent day for Dorchester. The unofficial estimates of the crowd reached as high as 6,000 attendees over the course of the 11-hour event that went on from 9 in the morning until 8 at night. There was nary a problem: police report no arrests and no problems with the orderly crowd.
Even at night's end, when the U2 cover band "Joshua Tree" played the last note, the crowd gathered to help clean up the streets, and within two hours, all was back to normal. One of the organizers, tired but exhilarated, said he was back at home with his feet up, relaxing in an easy chair by ten o'clock that night.
Yes, it was a triumphant event for Dorchester. Let's look ahead to a repeat next year!