Consul General embraces life as a Bostonian: ‘Everybody’s so lovely, so warm, so welcoming’

Ed Forry

Consul General Sighlé Fitzgerald at the Irish Consulate offices in Copley Square.

It was Christmas Eve Day 2023 and Ireland’s Consul General Sighlé Fitzgerald was on the beach at M Street in South Boston. The outside temperature was 5 degrees with the water temp in the high 30’s and she was there to join with a few other sturdy souls to take a mid-morning plunge into the waters of Dorchester Bay to help raise funds for the Irish Pastoral Centre.

“It’s a Lovely Christmas Eve Dip this morning with the Boston Irish Dippers…. and amazing post-dip catering,” she posted that day on her Facebook page. 

A week later, she joined her new bathing-suit friends for a New Year’s Day dive at Quincy’s Wollaston Beach. “Great turnout for New Year’s Dip with the Boston Irish Dippers in support of the Irish Pastoral Centre,” she wrote online. 

Boston’s newest Irish diplomat has visited a lot of places and made a lot of friends since arriving at the Irish Consulate last summer. Already she has been all over New England – a train trip to Maine on Amtrak’s Downeaster, visits to Irish groups in New Hampshire and Western Mass., and multiple meetings with Irish organizations all over greater Boston.

After almost three decades with the Department of Foreign affairs in posts in Madrid, Brussels, and Washington, Sighlé Fitzgerald has quickly settled into her new assignment in Boston  

“Boston is fantastic, do you know, terrific,” she said in an interview with the Boston Irish Magazine. “I mean, everybody’s so lovely, so warm, so welcoming. It’s super, it’s a lovely city. I’d previously been in Washington and I suppose Washington was much more of a transient city, with people who were coming and going all the time. But Boston is smaller and it’s easier to get around and, oh, I’m enjoying it. I have a good sense of the place now.”

Síghle, the daughter of a Garda who was raised in Mullingar in Ireland’s Midlands, regularly sends messages to her Facebook friends, telling of her delights and discoveries in her visits around New England. 

On a trip to Portland: “Maine blew me away -3,500 miles of coastline !! I’ve only just begun….” 

On a weekend on Boston’s South Shore: “No surprise that I felt so very much at home here. Scituate is twinned with West Cork, Perfectly Scituated, amazing place and people…”

She was especially pleased that the Consulate sponsored a Feb. 1 event to celebrate the great Irish woman, St Brigid: “A great evening celebrating renewal, leadership and empowerment with these amazing women #láfhéilebríde,” she said.  

She was also delighted to see the accomplishments of Irish women receiving increasing recognition, which moved her to speak about her literary interests.  “I am a big Bronte fan, because the father Bronte was born in county Armagh. So, over the years, I’ve been very interested in the whole Bronte link to Ireland because Charlotte Bronte herself married a man from Armagh, and obviously I’m from the Midlands, so I know that part of the country well, and she spent her honeymoon in Ireland. 

“I’m more of a reader than a writer,” Síghle told me. “But I have to have with an odd bit of poetry and whatnot; you know, there’s a bit of a poet in me somewhere.”