Search This Blog

Friday, December 12, 2008

INTERNATIONAL TOURISM AND THE OBAMA FACTOR

by Michael P. Quinlin

Tourism officials in Massachusetts and around the country are optimistic that a new era in international travel to the United States is about to begin.

Why the optimism? The election of Barack Obama has enhanced America’s image in the eyes of the world. Obama’s message of hope and change has rekindled a global affection for America that had been frozen for almost a decade, opening up new possibilities for the nation’s travel and tourism industry.

“There is unprecedented interest around the world in this new administration, which will certainly boost interest in visiting the United States,” says US Congressman William Delahunt (D-MA) of the 10th congressional district, which includes Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well as the state’s economically diverse South Shore.

Overseas travel to the United States dropped off sharply after September 11, 2001, and has never fully recovered. The decline has cost America nearly $140 billion in lost visitor spending, $22 billion in lost tax receipts and 230,000 lost jobs, according to the Travel Industry Association.

Responding to the decline, Congressman Delahunt introduced with Congressman Roy Blunt (R-MO) the Travel Protection Act in 2007 to create a public-private partnership that promotes the United States as a tourism destination throughout the world.

The proposed bill seeks to establish a more customer-friendly procedure for visitors to obtain visas and also a more efficient security-check system at airports. And it would create an international marketing program to brand the United States as the premier tourist destination in the world.

“As a Senator, Barack Obama understood the significance of international travel to our economy and with public diplomacy,” Delahunt says. “We are very much looking forward to working with this new administration on this important bipartisan initiative to ease barriers for foreign travel.”

“President Obama was one of the early supporters of the Travel Promotion Act,” said Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association. “He has already stated that his priorities are improving the economic situation and the image of the US abroad. He is well aware of the benefits tourism can bring to the economy.”

Lisa Simon, president of the National Tour Association, is helping with a set of recommendations about tourism and travel for Obama’s transition team. “We know that travel and tourism is a way to quickly inject new jobs, new income and new tax revenues into our national economy. We simply need a unified plan to make it happen,” she said.

State officials believe those benefits will help Massachusetts. Delahunt, who is regarded as one of the nation’s leading advocates of tourism, was instrumental in forming the Massachusetts Cultural Coast www.theculturalcoast.org/ in 2004 to market some of the state’s premier destinations, and he works closely with state officials to boost Massachusetts.

Patrick Moscaritolo, CEO of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, says, “ I am looking forward to working with President Obama’s administration to make Congressman Delahunt’s Travel Promotion legislation the centerpiece of an aggressive campaign to sell Boston and Massachusetts across the globe.”

Betsy Wall, executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, says, “An Obama administration puts the US in a favorable light overseas. We’re confident that visitors will want to visit Massachusetts -- where America began.”

Michael P. Quinlin is president of the Boston Irish Tourism Association, a group that promotes cultural tourism year round in Massachusetts.

© Boston Irish Tourism Association

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vote Boston America's #1 City!

Boston is in the final round against San Francisco in Travel & Leisure Magazine's online contest to determine America’s Favorite City!

Three weeks ago 25 US cities vied against each other in a head-to-head battle for America's Favorite City on www.travelandleisure.com. Just twelve cities advanced to Round Two, Boston among them. In Round Two Boston Beat Miami (70% vs. 30%); in Round Three, Boston beat New York & Chicago by capturing 46% of the votes (New York 29%, Chicago 25%). San Francisco (51% of the votes) beat Honolulu (20%) and San Diego (29%).

In the Final Round, Boston is up against San Francisco. It’s East Coast vs. West Coast! Don't let Boston lose as two magnificent waterfront cities battle it out for the title!

If you love Boston as much as we do, please Vote for Boston TODAY!

Click on www.travelandleisure.com/afc/2008/game now and vote for Boston. And then vote again! It only takes 10 seconds. Check back next week - to see if we’re America’s Favorite City.

As Boston Mayor James Michael Curley used to say on election day, "Vote early and Vote often!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sean Casey - the Friendliest Guy in Baseball





With a name like Sean Casey, you’re bound to get a good greeting in Red Sox Nation, which had its not-so-humble beginnings in the early 20th century when Michael McGreevey led a band of raucous Sox fans – many of them Irish – called the Royal Rooters.
But the newest Boston Red Sox player is a popular guy wherever he’s been in his illustrious major league baseball career.
The convivial big-leaguer with the sunny disposition has always had an upbeat, outgoing personality. Over the past 12 seasons the chatty first baseman has honed his conversational skills with thousands of players from across the league who have landed on his base.
Last year a Sports Illustrated poll of the players themselves voted Casey “the friendliest player in baseball.” And he’s known around the league as the mayor because of his approachable demeanor.
Of course, Casey is much more than a master conversationalist and all-around good guy.
He’s a three-time All Star and National League MVP who has played for the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians (he and Manny Rameriz are good friends from their year together in Cleveland), Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers before coming to the Boston Red Sox this season.
He’s a back up first baseman and occasional designated hitter who is batting .370 in mid-June.
Casey grew up in Upper Saint Clair, a town outside of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania where sports are a huge part of community life. Just ask Dan Rooney, head of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Casey excelled in high school and won a small scholarship to the University of Richmond where he developed into a fearsome hitter. His senior year he won the NCAA batting title by hitting .461.
He made his major league debut in 1997 with Cleveland, then spent the next eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, where he was selected to the National League All-Star team three times. He has a lifetime batting average of .302, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the National League’s in 1999, batting .332.
Like any little league kid day-dreaming about the big leagues, Casey got his chance to play before his home-town crowd, when he spent a year with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006.
“It was a dream come true,” he recalls. “I was a Pirate fan growing up – watching Willie Stargel and those guys. So playing at PNC Park in downtown Pittsburgh is something I’ll never forget.”

Familiar with the Bay State
Married with three children, Casey feels right at home in Massachusetts. It turns out he’s been here before.
As a 20 year old junior at Richmond, he played for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer of 1994.
“When I went to the Cape I realized how beautiful Massachusetts was,” he recalls. “I just fell in love with it up here.”
That summer Casey also met his good pal Father Paul O’Brien, the dynamic parish priest at St. Patrick’s Church in Lawrence who started Cor Unam (One Heart) Meal Center, feeding hundreds of working poor families in this city of immigrants.
Casey and O’Brien shared an Irish-Catholic background, sense of humor and outlook on life that formed the basis of a lasting friendship.
When O’Brien became pastor at St. Patrick’s in 2001, he began making plans for the pantry. He and Casey, along with comedian Conan O’Brian and others started a fundraising campaign, titled Labels are for Jars, which raised need funds while also discouraging negative stereotyping.
In September 2006 they officially opened the Center. Last summer when Casey was in town with the Detroit Tigers, he went up to Lawrence to serve meals and to help spread awareness of hunger issues.
“When you give back to people,” he said in a recent interview, “that’s when your heart really grows.”
Casey, who keeps a bible in his locker, is a man of faith whose social conscience was formed by his parents. He is also proud of his Irish Catholic heritage.
“My great grandfather came over from County Cork around the time of the Irish potato famine, when he was fourteen years old,” Casey says. “He came over to Staten Island, and ended up on Long Island.”
Atop of Casey’s wish list, he says, is to undertake some genealogical research and compile a family history of the Casey clan. Another goal is to make his long-awaited trip to Ireland.
“I have never been to Ireland, but I’m gonna go, I’m gonna go soon,” he says. “One of my best friends, Brian Healey, is from County Cork, and his family still lives there. He’s promised me the royal tour.”
Casey would fit right in over in Ireland, because that’s the kind of guy he is. For now, he’s traveling throughout Red Sox Nation, getting the royal treatment wherever he goes.
- Article by Michael P. Quinlin
For information on Boston Red Sox, visit http://www.bostonredsox.com/.
For information on Labels are for Jars visit labelsareforjars.org.
For information on Irish events in Boston area, visit http://www.irishmassachusetts.com/

Sean Casey Highlights
Drafted by the Cleveland Indians, 1995
Cincinnati Reds, 1998-2005
Pittsburgh Pirates, 2006
Detroit Tigers, 2006-2007
Boston Red Sox, 2008
National League All Star Team, 1999, 2001, 2004
Major League Hutch Award, 1999
Voted Most Valuable Player, National League, 1999
Click here to read Irish Echo article.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Irish Festivals in Massachusetts Summer 2008

Tourism Group Announces Irish Festival Season in Massachusetts

(Milton) – The Boston Irish Tourism Association released its annual schedule of Irish, Scottish and Celtic festivals and concerts taking place throughout Massachusetts this summer.

The outdoor festivities celebrate the state’s vibrant Irish culture and heritage, and feature many of the world’s best traditional musicians, singers and dancers.

“Americans and Canadians looking for the very best Irish music don’t have to travel to Europe this summer – they can find it right here in Massachusetts,” said Michael P. Quinlin, president of Boston Irish Tourism Association.

“And because of how Irish music and dance have integrated with other traditions over many generations, these festivals also feature a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish, Appalachian, Canadian and American folk music too.”

The festivals run from June through September and take place in every part of the state, from the Boston area to western Massachusetts, and from Merrimack Valley and Worcester to Cape Cod.

The Irish festivals are part of a larger list of ethnic activities being promoted by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism (MOTT), the state’s official tourism bureau, which has just introduced WorldFest, a collection of ethnic events throughout the state.

“There are so many wonderful, exciting and affordable events happening throughout Massachusetts this summer,” said Betsy Wall, executive director of MOTT. “Massachusetts residents don’t have to travel far distances, at great expense, to experience a new and exciting culture. There’s a whole world waiting for them in their own back yard.”

Kicking off the Irish festivities is the new Worcester Irish Music Festival, June 14-15, at the city’s refurbished Hibernian Center. Lt. Governor Tim Murray will join Irish community leaders and music lovers from Central Massachusetts to celebrate Irish-American heritage dating back to the 18th century. Canada’s Celtic rock band, Seven Nations, is headlining, along with New York City’s Irish punk band Black 47.

Now in its sixth year, the Cape Cod Celtic Festival, June 26-29, is modeled after the successful Celtic Colours Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year’s line-up features fiddle maestro Seamus Connolly, piping master Paddy Keenan and Cape Breton Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond.

The Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival, July 12, is fast becoming “the place where up and coming Celtic performers can have a forum,” says Jeannie Hebert, head of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce.

On July 19 the 15th annual Glasgow Scottish Lands Festival takes place in Florence, MA, featuring an all-day gathering of the clans, piping and athletic competitions, and music from Enter the Haggis and other bands.

The state’s largest Irish festival is the ICONS Festival hosted by the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton on September 12-14, 2008. The three-day festival combines the best Irish musicians with their counterparts from other traditions, says Brian O’Donovan, festival director.

“In addition to Irish traditional acts like Liam Clancy, Paul Brady, Lunasa and Solas, for example, this year we have a terrific group from Quebec, Le Vent Du Nord, who play distinctly French Canadian music, with the same joie de vivre that exists in Irish music,” O’Donovan says.

“We will also have offerings from Cape Breton, Scotland and Brittany.”
Nearby Rhode Island also boasts two excellent festivals: the Blackstone River Theatre Celtic Festival on July 19 and the Newport Waterfront Irish Festival on August 30-September 1, 2008. The Celtic Fest at Blackstone River Theatre is part of a year-round program that brings top Celtic bands to perform, according to director Russell J. Gusetti. And the Newport Festival, now in its 11th year, features Eileen Ivers and other top acts over Labor Day weekend.

In addition to the festivals, a number of Irish performances are taking place at outdoor concert venues, including the Agganis Arena, Bank of America Pavilion in Boston, Cape Cod Melody Tent, the Lowell Summer Music Series at Boarding House Park, and the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset.

The Boston Irish Tourism Association was formed in 2000 to promote cultural tourism year round. It publishes three travel, food and culture guides each year, and has developed an Irish Heritage Trail (www.irishheritagetrail.com) that highlights Irish landmarks throughout Boston and around the state.

For further details on the festivals and concerts, as well as other Irish and cultural activities, hotel packages, gift shops and Irish pubs, visit www.IrishMassachusetts.com. For details on the state’s WorldFest activities, visit www.massvacation.com.


Irish, Scottish and Celtic Festivals in Massachusetts, 2008
Compiled by the Boston Irish Tourism Association

June 14-15
Worcester Irish Music Festival
Hibernian Center
Worcester, MA

June 26-29
Cape Cod Celtic Festival
Various Locations Cape Cod, MA

June 28
Western Mass Highland Games & Celtic Festival
Greenfield, MA

July 12
Blackstone Valley Celtic Festival
Indian Ranch Performance Center
Webster, MA

July 19
Blackstone River Theater Celtic Festival
Cumberland, RI

July 19
Glasgow Scottish Lands Festival
Florence (Northampton), MA

August 9
Irish Festival
John Boyle O'Reilly Club
Springfield, MA

August 30 - September 1
Newport Waterfront Irish Festival
Newport Yacht Club, RI

August 31
Sons of Erin Irish Festival
Westfield, MA

September 12-14
ICONS Festival / Irish Connections
Irish Cultural Centre of New EnglandCanton, MA

Upcoming Irish, Scottish and Celtic Concerts in Massachusetts, 2008
Compiled by the Boston Irish Tourism Association

Agannis Arena
Boston
Celtic Thunder (October 6 & 28)

Bank of America Pavilion
South Boston Waterfront
Young Dubliners & Jethro Tull (August 4)

Cape Cod Melody Tent
Hyannis, Cape Cod
John McDermott (July 6), Saw Doctors (August 14), Comedian Brian Regan (August 21)

Colonial Theatre
Boston
The High Kings (September 13-14)

Lowell Summer Music Series
Boarding House Park, Lowell
Richard Thompson (June 28), Bela Fleck (July 17), Saw Doctors (August 7), Hothouse Flowers (August 15)

River Run Concert Series
Pilgrim Memorial Park, Downtown Plymouth
Tribute to Tommy Makem (August 27)

South Shore Music Circus
Cohasset (South Shore)
John McDermott (July 5), Saw Doctors (August 13), Comedian Brian Regan (August 24)

Summerfest 2008
New Bedford
Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul (July 4)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

COOKING FOR THE KENNEDYS

COOKING FOR THE KENNEDYS
New book recalls favorite Kennedy recipes and stories

By Michael P. Quinlin

One of Neil Connolly’s biggest assignments as an award-winning chef was to bake a birthday cake at a family gathering.

It wasn’t an ordinary cake, or an ordinary family. The occasion was Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy’s 103rd birthday, and included dozens of siblings, children, grandchildren and elders who had come together at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport.

“I walked into the dining room with the cake – lighted with all the candles – and everyone started singing Happy Birthday,” said Connolly, who served as the personal chef to Sen. Edward Kennedy and his mother for nearly twelve years.

“When the candles were blown out, the room quickly filled with smoke. Senator Kennedy said, ‘Neil, take the cake outside before the fire alarm sounds.’ Needless to say, the party moved to the living room.”

Connolly’s passion for cooking and preparing creative cuisine found a good home at the Compound, which was a headquarters for family gatherings and grand galas for famous politicians, athletes and entertainers from around the world.

Next Sunday, March 9, Connolly kicks off the annual Gaelic Gourmet Week in Boston at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library with a special event sure to bring out lovers of good food and of Kennedy lore.

Sponsored by the Boston Irish Tourism Association and Tourism Ireland, the week long series of events brings top chefs like Connolly to town for a moveable feast of culinary activities.

The JFK Library event, which runs from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., is hosted by Billy Costa, the lively host of NECN’s TV Diner show. Chef Connolly will give a live cooking demonstration of a favorite Kennedy dish –lobster stew – and will answer questions from the audience about cooking or about the Kennedys.

Afterward he’ll sign copies of his book, In the Kennedy Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections of a Great American Family.

The event is free but reservations are required by visiting www.jfkennedylibrary.org

On Monday, March 11, Connolly joins Chef Gerry Tice at the historic Omni Parker House on School Street for Irish Heritage Dinner. The cost is $50.00 and includes a four-course meal, wine and whiskey.

For details, visit http://www.irishmassachusetts.com/special_features.php

For Parker House marketing director Dave Ritchie, this is the fourth year the hotel has hosted an Irish dinner, which began in 2005 when Galway chef Ciaran Gantly was guest chef. .

Ritchie is delighted with Chef Connolly’s participation in particular, since the Omni Parker House is where the Kennedy and Fitzgerald clans held many of its political victory parties over the years.

In fact, John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie in the Parker Restaurant, Ritchie says.

For Connolly, co-owner of Doc’s Restaurant in Orlando Florida, returning to Boston with his wife for this year’s event is a pleasurable journey. He recalls how his career with the Kennedys got started.

He was executive chef at the Dunfey Hyannis Hotel, and the general manager called him in to say the Kennedy family had called.

“He said that their personal chef was sick, and they wanted to see if I could cover a dinner party for 60 that night,” Connolly explained. “It sounded interesting, so I agreed.”

The dinner party turned into job as head chef that lasted nearly twelve years for Connolly, who writes in his book that it was an honor to work with one of America’s great families.

For more details on Chef Connolly and Gaelic Gourmet Week, visit www.IrishMassachusetts.com

Gaelic Gourmet Week in Boston, March 9-17, 2008

Taking a Pass on Corned Beef

By Michael P. Quinlin

In Boston, corned beef and cabbage is being edged off the St. Patrick’s Day menu, replaced by more exotic dishes like Wild Irish Rabbit, Spring Lamb and Irish Potato Cakes with fresh Salmon.

These dishes are part of this year’s 4th annual Gaelic Gourmet Week in Boston, a moveable feast of upscale culinary events in the city’s finest hotels, restaurants, pubs, museums and theaters.

The culinary feasts focus on Ireland’s relatively new status as a culinary destination, and puts Ireland’s leading chefs alongside their counterparts in the United States and Canada, where the gathering of chefs can share culinary techniques, recipes and traditions.

The menu also reflects the changing tastes of Irish-American culture, which had somehow gotten mired for decades in a belief and practice that Irish food was strictly a boiled affair.

Tourism Ireland and the Boston Irish Tourism Association are co-sponsors of the event, along with the Irish Dairy Board, Michael Collins Whiskey and the Canadian Consulate General of Boston.

This year’s Boston celebration features visiting master chefs Padraic Hayden from the Dylan Hotel in Dublin, Tony O’Neill from the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Paul McKnight from Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast, Sean Doucet from the Delta Barrington Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Neil Connolly from Docs Restaurant in Orlando, Florida.


For more information on Gaelic Gourmet Week and a list of Irish activities in Massachusetts, visit www.IrishMassachusetts.com or call 617 696-9880.