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125 Years Ago, South Boston's James B. Connolly won the first medal in the Modern Olympic Games

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On Monday, April 6, 1896 ,  James Brendan Connolly  of South Boston became the first medalist in the modern Olympic Games when he won the triple jump on the opening day of the Games in Athens, Greece. Connolly won the event - back then it was called the Hop, Skip and Jump - by jumping 44 ' 9 3/4", beating the second place finisher by nearly six feet. After his final jump, the audience began chanting his name and yelling Nike, the Greek word for victory, according to Connolly's teammate, Ellery H. Clark. Connolly and his American teammates nearly missed their events - they arrived in Athens thinking they had twelve days to prepare, only to realize that the Greeks used the Julian Calendar, not the Gregorian Calendar, and his event was that afternoon. Connolly also competed in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, and took second place in the Triple Jump. Beverly Cronin of the Boston Herald wrote, "In typical Connolly fashion, he walked the seven miles to Paris Stadium becaus

USS Jamestown Sails from Charlestown Navy Yard on Humanitarian Mission to Help Ireland, March 28, 1847

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  Painting of USS Jamestown, courtesy of the artist Edward D. Walker  On March 28, 1847, the USS Jamestown set sail from Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston Harbor on a humanitarian mission to Ireland, carrying 800 tons of supplies for the victims of the Irish Famine. The mission was led by Captain  Robert Bennet Forbes , a wealthy sea merchant living in Milton, MA. With Forbes on the journey were 38 crew members who had signed on to help. In February, Forbes had petitioned the US Congress for the loan of a naval ship to bring supplies, and permission to use the USS Jamestown had been granted. As the boat left the harbor on the morning of March 28, crowds lined the wharf and the shores, cheering as the ship headed out to open seas. The fifteen day voyage faced foul weather and rain, sleet, wind and fog. The ship landed in Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork on April 12, 1847. Back in Boston, the newspapers enthusiastically reported on the trip, failing to note the cruel irony that became ap

Marty Walsh is Confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor on March 22, 2021

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  Congratulations to Martin J. Walsh, who was confirmed today as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.  The U.S. Senate approved his nomination 68-29. Walsh has been mayor of Boston since January 2014, and prior to that was Massachusetts state representative and a leader in Boston's trade unions. In his farewell speech today, Walsh cited affordable housing, education, economic development, recovery services and racial equality as some of his most important efforts during his term in office. He offered that there was still work to be done, but that he was proud of how far the city of Boston has progressed in recent years.  Upon recommending Walsh for the Labor post in January 2021, President-Elect Joe Biden said, “Marty understands like I do: the middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class. He sees how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis … [including] public service workers, fighting against budget shortfalls, to keep communit

America's First Great Artist, John S. Copley, born in Boston to Irish Immigrant Parents

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  America's first great portrait artist, John Singleton Copley (1737-1815) was born in Boston on July 3, 1738. He was the son of Irish immigrants who emigrated to Boston in the 1730s. John's parents, Richard Copley and Mary Singleton from County Clare, were married in County Limerick before emigrating to Boston. Right after their son John was born, Richard Copley traveled to the West Indies and died shortly thereafter, leaving John’s mother to raise him as a widow. She worked at a shop in Boston that sold tobacco close to Boston Harbor. In 1747 Mary S. Copley married Peter Pelham, a colonial artist and an original member of the Charitable Irish Society formed in 1737. It was Pelham who helped to nurture his stepson John's talent, and by age twenty Copley had gained a reputation as a promising artist. His first painting, "A Boy and the Flying Squirrel," was sent to the Royal Academy in London and his reputation began to take shape. Copley seized the opportunity to

Spring Issue of Travel & Culture Magazine Focuses on Massachusetts Culture and Travel to Ireland

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  This week the Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) issued its 2021 spring issue of Travel & Culture magazine, a compendium of Irish concerts, culinary, cultural and literary activities taking place in Massachusetts and throughout New England this spring, as well as travel tips for visiting the island of Ireland this year.    The pandemic has caused many of the traditional activities such as the state’s eight St. Patrick’s Day parades to be cancelled this year, and most of the cultural activities such as concerts, film festivals, dancing and lectures have gone virtual and are being enjoyed by viewers online.  On the culinary front, Irish organizations such as the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton, offer reserved dining that complies with the health and safety regulations issued by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And Dine Out Boston, organized by the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, is offering restaurant deals at 100+ eateries around Boston.  This issue has

The Boston Celtics - Green Uniforms, Shamrocks and Lucky the Leprechaun

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Many people wonder why the Boston Celtics wear shamrocks on their green uniforms and have a giant leprechaun smoking a pipe as their team logo. And why the team mascot is a guy named Lucky who looks like he stepped out of a box of Lucky Charms? According to the Boston Celtics’ official website, the name came about in 1946 when owner Walter Brown started the team. He and his public relations guy, Howie McHugh, were throwing out potential nicknames, including the Whirlwinds, Unicorns and Olympics. It was Brown who had the epiphany, saying, “Wait, I’ve got it – the Celtics. The name has a great basketball tradition from the old Original Celtics in New York (1920s). And Boston is full of Irishman. We’ll put them in green uniforms and call them the Boston Celtics.” Red Auerbach , the now legendary coach of the early Celtics, then commissioned his brother Zang, a graphic designer in the newspaper business, to come up with the famous Celtics logo in the early 1950s. The logo manages to inclu

Irish Famine Memorials in Massachusetts

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(Clockwise: Boston Irish Famine Memorial, Deer Island Famine Memorial, Children of the Famine Memorial in Charlestown, An Gorta Mor Memorial in Lawrence, and Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial in Cambridge)  Massachusetts has a number of Irish Famine Memorials throughout the state, to commemorate the Irish Famine of the 1840s, which killed one million people and sent an additional two million people into exile. Many of the Irish who fled Ireland them arrived at Boston Harbor, starving and sick, and were quarantined at Deer Island before being allowed to come ashore. Many of them died on the island and over 800 are buried there.  In 1847 alone, 25,000 Irish arrived in Boston, according to historian Thomas O'Connor.   Other Irish refugees arrived at other ports along the Eastern Seaboard, from New York to Montreal and St. John, NB, and made their way to Massachusetts and New England, often on foot.  The Irish Famine is also known as An Gorta Mor, or the Great Hunger. Here are five me