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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer Solstice Festival Today at Diamond Hill Park features Irish, Celtic, American Folk Bands

The annual Summer Solstice Festival is underway today at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland, RI, with a full lineup of music, dance, and entertainment

Sponsored by the Blackstone River Theatre, the Festival features five entertainment stages plus food and craft vendors.
Among the top performers this year are Barrule,a Celtic band from the Isle of Man,and Girsa, the dynamic Irish traditional ensemble from New York,  Also, Mari Black Trio, The John Doyle Band, The Gnomes, Low Lily, Pendragon, Torrin Ryan,  Atwater-Donnelly Trio, The Vox Hunters, Will Woodson & Eric McDonald, and Irish step dance featuring Tir Na Nog Irish Dance. 

You'll find food & craft vendors as well as a children’s activities area!

Tickets are available at the gate. 

For year round details on Irish cultural activities in the region, visit

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Issue of Travel & Culture Guide Focuses on Massachusetts and Ireland

(BOSTON) -- The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) has released its 2016 summer issue of Travel & Culture Guide, a compendium of festivals and concerts, culinary, cultural and literary activities taking place in Massachusetts and throughout New England

The 28-page color magazine is distributed free at visitor kiosks and cultural venues throughout Massachusetts.  Here is the digital format online. 

Among the stories in this issue: roundup of Irish festivals; the sounds of summer music in Boston and Tanglewood; Boston's newest outdoor venue, Lawn on D; museum news from the JFK Library and EMK Institute; new renovations at Boston Harbor Hotel; and Cruiseport Boston's 30th anniversary in South Boston.

People profiled in the Guide include Ray Flynn, former US Ambassador and Boston Mayor; Joe Corcoran, developer and philanthropist; Fionnuala Quinlan, Ireland's Consul General in Boston; Dannel Malloy, Governor of Connecticut, and musicians Eileen Ivers and the New York band Girsa. 

The Ireland section focuses on two hit productions - Star Wars and Game of Thrones - being filmed in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and ideas for visiting Ireland in the fall.

BITA is celebrating its 16th year as a year-round, cultural tourism organization that promotes the state’s largest ethnic community.  The US Census reports that nearly 23% of all Massachusetts residents claim Irish ancestry.

BITA publishes the Travel & Culture Guide three times a year in March, June and November, and has developed the Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail, which highlights Irish landmarks throughout Boston and around the state.

For up to date, year round details on festivals and concerts, as well as Irish-American cultural organizations, hotel packages, gift shops and Irish pubs, visit

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Reagle Production of Carousel Features Irish Actor Ciaran Sheehan

The Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston is presenting the Rodgers & Hammerstein's Broadway hit Carousel, featuring acclaimed Irish actor Ciaran Sheehan, from June 9-19 at the Robertson Theatre in Waltham.

Tickets are available online or by calling the box office at 781 891-5600.

Born in Dublin, Sheehan is a popular actor and singer in New York, where he has performed frequently at the Irish Repertory Theatre Company, Carnegie Hall and other venues.

Find year round information on Irish cultural activities in Massachusetts at

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Irish Fest Boston Takes Place at Irish Cultural Centre this Weekend

The annual Irish Fest Boston is taking place on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, at the 47 acre Irish Cultural Centre in Canton.

Tickets at the gate are $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors (over 65) and military, with children under 12 going free.  There is free parking and shuttle buses from the lot to the festival.  

The festival features continuous Irish music, dance, sports, literary, cultural and family activities, as well as a vendor display of Irish products such as clothing, jewelry, books, furnishings and hand-made crafts.

Among the headliners at this year's festival:  Canadian Irish Tenor John McDermott,  the Wolfe Tones, Andy Cooney and the Cunningham Family.  Here is the complete schedule. 

A special feature this year is the Viking Irish.  And there is a literary tent with authors talking about their books.

Here is a schedule of Irish/Scottish/Celtic Festivals in New England this summer.

For year round information on Irish activities in the region, visit

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Profile on Irish FIddler Seamus Connolly of County Clare and Boston, Massachusetts

(This story originally appeared in the spring 2016 issue of BITA's Travel & Culture Guide.)

Séamus Connolly, the Irish fiddle master from County Clare who created Boston College’s influential Gaelic Roots program, retired from the university in December, after an illustrious 25 year career as an artist-in-residence, teacher, researcher and leading advocate for the folk traditions of Ireland.

We telephoned Séamus in February and he answered from Florida, where he and some friends were enjoying themselves at a race track on a sunny, winter’s day.

Retiring in wintry December in Boston and then heading down to Florida? Connolly always did have impeccable timing.

“Sometimes you know when the time is right, and leaving at the end of 2015 was the perfect time,” he says, laughing. “I was honored to be part of BC’s Irish Studies program, working with people from the school, with visiting artists and with the students, it was all very gratifying.”

How Connolly came to BC in the first place is worth noting. Back in the 1980s, Irish studies programs at American universities were typically dryly academic, with a focus on literature, politics and history.

Thankfully, BC’s Irish Studies program co-directors Drs. Kevin O’Neill and Adele Dalsimer understood there needed to be more, and they tracked down Connolly, a well-regarded fiddler who had won 10 All Ireland championships, to teach at the college.

“Kevin and Adele were great visionaries; they understood that an academic Irish studies program without music and dance would be incomplete. I think it was in 1990 that I was with a group of American musicians at Cork University and Kevin came down from Dublin. He asked me if I would come to BC and teach fiddle. I said yes.”

BC already had a fine music department, but Connolly imbued it was a distinct flavor by making live Irish music an integral part of the campus culture. In 1990, he and pianist Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin organized the college’s first Irish Fiddle Festival. Connolly followed up with a Sean Nós singing festival with the Music Department in 1991, and finally a Harp Festival in 1992 to commemorate the famous Belfast Harp Festival of 1792.

In 1993, Connolly launched Gaelic Roots, a stellar summer music program with an international reputation that lasted until 2003.

Suddenly there were master musicians from IrelandScotlandCape Breton, French Québec and the Appalachians coming to campus to play tunes, hold workshops, talk about their music, and play sessions well into the night with local musicians and singers. Musicians traveled from as far as AustraliaJapan and Norway to participate.

“The most fulfilling part for me was bringing to America some of Ireland’s great master musicians, who personified what the tradition was all about,” Connolly says. He rattles off the names: Bobby Casey, Francie Mooney, Johnny O’Leary, Paddy Cronin, Peter O’Loughlin, Josephine Keegan…it is a long, distinguished list.

Connolly is quick to credit his colleagues on campus who helped him throughout his tenure, starting with Beth Sweeney, his former student who became a co-director for the Gaelic Roots concert series that ran throughout the school year and also serves as the Irish Music archivist at the John J. Burns Library. He mentions Dr. Tom Hachey, former executive director of Irish Studies, who advocated for the concert series. He also credits flutist Jimmy Noonan, Dr. Anne (Shapiro) Dhu McLucas, and Dr. Jeremiah McGrann of the Music Department and university librarian Tom Wall. Most of all, he thanks his late wife, Sandy Walter, who helped him build Gaelic Roots into a critical success and was also his soul mate until her death in 2011.

And he thanks G. Craig and Maureen Sullivan, who established the Sullivan-Artist-in Residence endowment in 2004, just after the Gaelic Roots Summer School ended.

The residence, which began as a four-year endowment but lasted for 11 years until his retirement, allowed Connolly the freedom to play music, conduct research and teach a new generation of students.

This summer, the Boston College Libraries plan to publish a project Connolly has worked on for 15 years. The Séamus Connolly Music Collection “contains 300 + tracks of tunes I’ve collected over the last 50 years, played by contemporary players,” he explains. “I have transcribed the tunes as I originally heard them from old masters, so students can contrast the way each tune was originally played alongside the interpretation of the contemporary artist.”

The Collection will be posted online as a digital product.

Now back at his home in Maine, Connolly has some travel and music plans lined up for the year. “I’m heading back to Ireland for awhile, then to Rome for three weeks, and over to London,” he says.
“I hope to continue working with Beth Sweeney and her colleagues at the Irish Music Archives. 
There is a goldmine of material in those collections that needs to be listened to. Someone needs to identify the tunes and the musicians who play them.

“I would also like to advocate that people donate their music collections to Boston College, where they will be well-cared for and appreciated. I believe in the preservation of these materials for future students to study and learn.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

John F. Kennedy born in May 29, 1917

Ninety-nine years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was born on  May 29, 1917 at 83 Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States, elected at age 43, the youngest American president.  He was also the first Catholic president. 

You can find out about President Kennedy, his life, his family and his presidency, by visiting John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, located at Columbia Point in Boston. The Library is open year round to the general public. 

Kennedy's birthplace in Brookline is a National Historic Site and is also open to the public. 

To read more about the Kennedy Family's Irish connections, click here.

For year round details on Irish activities in Massachusetts, visit

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Boston Honors Ray Flynn with Mural at Cruiseport Boston Terminal

Ray Flynn, former Mayor of Boston and US Ambassador to the Vatican, was honored this week by state and city officials and dozens of local school children.  

The children, representing the Laboure Center, South Boston Boys and Girls Club, South Boston Catholic Academy, South Boston Community Health Center and the South Boston Arts Association, painted a life-sized mural of Flynn overlooking Boston's waterfront.

The ceremony took place at the Cruiseport Boston Black Falcon facility operated by Massport, as part of the Cruiseport Boston Week celebrating the 30th anniversary of the facility, which was opened two years after Flynn became Mayor of Boston.  

Massport CEO Tom Glynn praised Flynn for preserving the South Boston waterfront and bringing it back to active use. As a youth, Flynn worked on the docks as a Longshoreman alongside his father and father-in-law.

The students painting the murals were instructed by South Boston artist and watercolorist Dan McCole, who is also co-founder and president of the South Boston Arts Association.

When Cruiseport Boston first opened it 1986, it welcomed 13 cruise ships and 11.723 passengers. This year, the terminal will welcome 114 ships and 320,000 passengers, according to Massport.  

Earlier this year, the City of Boston renamed the Ray Flynn Marine Park in honor of Flynn, who grew up a few miles away.

Read more profiles of leading Bostonians in the Irish-American community here.