By Ed Forry
In the fall of 1990, when my late dear wife Mary Casey Forry and I discussed the idea of publishing a newspaper about Irish Boston, we were not well informed about the land of our ancestors. Mary’s mom and dad had come over in the1930s – Mary Kate Kane from Mohill in Leitrim, Martin Casey from Carracastle in Mayo – and she had grown up hearing stories of the hard life that had caused her grandparents to send their children to America. As for me, the only one of my four grandparents whom I knew was Hannah Crotty Forry, and that was when I was a young child.
Mary had active ties by mail and the occasional phone call from some aunts, uncles, and first cousins, while I knew only that there were some distant relatives over there – somewhere.
In those years, despite Boston’s status as “the most Irish city in America,” there was no Boston-based journal of news and information to report on the growing local Irish diaspora. Mary and I saw an opportunity to celebrate our own heritage while beginning a journey of great discovery about Ireland and Irish America, with a special focus on the people we both knew best: Irish Bostonians.
And so it was in October 1990 that we formed the Boston Irish Reporter, with a mission to “Tell the Stories of Boston’s Irish” … the lives of our neighbors, our friends, our families. Collectively, they are the stories of the many Irish-born people who braved the transAtlantic journey to find freedom and prosperity for themselves and their children in America. The tales are always inspiring, and in fact, never get old. And they are our stories – they tell who we are.
After twenty years, the BIR remains one of the region's few remaining family-owned and-operated publications in Boston and the New England region. With a pledge to continue our tradition as the region's leading chronicler of all things Irish-American, we will observe this important milestone with a noontime celebratory luncheon on Thurs., Oct. 7, at Boston's Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center.
The event will feature the debut of a new awards ceremony, the “Boston Irish Honors.” Consistent with our own heritage, the newspaper will make presentations to two Boston Irish individuals for their special achievements in public service and business, and to three Irish families who share our common roots in Boston and Ireland.
The honorees are Congressman Edward Markey, Arbella Insurance CEO John Donohue, and three “exemplary” Boston Irish families, the Bretts, the Geraghtys, and the family of the late Boston Mayor John B. Hynes.
In planning our anniversary, we reached out to many friends and business leaders in Boston, and I am delighted to say they unanimously agreed to help. We formed a 40-member event committee, and we contacted every leading Irish social and business group in greater Boston.
As I write, the luncheon is almost fully subscribed, with 300 or more planning to join us at the beautiful Cityview room at the Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center.
Their support will help sustain a strong, vibrant, and independent journal of Irish-American culture for Boston and New England in the coming years.