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Thursday, May 21, 2020

JFK Library in Boston offers Online Digital Resources highlighting JFK's life and legacy

While its physical location closed, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum is offering a selection of both long-form and short-form content to explore and to learn about President Kennedy's life and legacy.
Among the online resources:  
Educational Materials for teachers, including lesson plans, activities, videos, primary sources, and reading material for student and teacher engagement.
JFK35 Podcast, which offer a behind-the-scenes look at JFK’s life and legacy.
JFK Library Archives Blog, including collection openings; digitization projects; research into the lives, careers, and times of JFK, his family, and associates; and archival perspectives on the day-to-day work of this presidential library.
Find a full list of online JFK Library resources here.
Follow JFK Library on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram, where the staff highlight items from the Library's archival and museum holdings under #JFKLFromHome.
Read about the Kennedy Family's Irish connections in these stories published by Boston Irish Tourism Association

Friday, May 15, 2020

Ireland - Hidden Gems on the Emerald Isle

Tourism Ireland has compiled a list of hidden gems across Ireland.  Check out these suggestions below, and return to Ireland when the time is right. 

North of Ireland

Secret wonders abound in the north of Ireland. Meander from Donegal to Down and discover all that this place has to offer – castles in Antrim, the Aurora Borealis in Donegal, ancient burial grounds in Armagh: oh, and the origins of some very famous writers...

Inishowen is remote, beautiful – and an ideal place to witness the Northern Lights in Ireland, especially from Grianán of Aileach, a huge 2,000-year-old ring fort sitting 250 metres/820ft above sea level. When you've had your fill of wonder, pop over to Buncrana to the delicious Beach House restaurant, which serves award-winning food in an incredible location.

The Causeway Coast boasts epic sights that are famous the world over, including the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. One of the unsung heroes, though, has to be Dunseverick Castle. A dramatic and crumbling ruin, Dunseverick’s location on top of a cliff adds a gravitas worthy of its eventful past. St Patrick is thought to have visited in the 5th century, a Viking invasion came to its door in 870 AD; and the castle was captured and destroyed in the 1600s.

Looking for a wild countryside experience? Check out the gorgeous National Trust site of Divis and the Black Mountain. Keep an eye out for free-roaming cattle in green fields, wild horses and badger setts and rare birds such as peregrine falcons are known to frequent this spot. Pick a clear day, and your view will include Strangford Lough, the Mourne Mountains, the Sperrin Mountains and even Scotland. Bliss.

Named after the pagan goddess Queen Macha, who, according to legend, ruled for over a decade in this part of the world, Navan Fort (Emain Macha in Irish) was once the high seat of the kings and queens of Ulster. Archaeologists love this place, thanks to finds such as the 2,500-year-old skull of a Barbary macaque monkey, which found its way there from North Africa.

The shimmering heart of the Mourne Mountains, the Silent Valley reservoir is a magnet for busy minds yearning for solitude. Ringed by mountains, the man-made lake isn't called "silent" for nothing. The tranquillity here makes it a perfect spot for chilling out and reflecting on your journey.

Ireland's Ancient East

Ireland's Ancient East is renowned for its long history of amazing stories – ask any local about the area you're in and you'll see what we mean. But three spots in County Louth and County Kildare take the crown for quirky stories you'll never forget.

The "magic road" is legendary among locals in Jenkinstown, County Louth. Take a car to this unassuming little spot, stop at what is affectionately known as "the Big Mushroom", shift gear into neutral and prepare to defy gravity – literally – as your car rolls uphill!

The Wonderful Barn in County Kildare, shaped like a corkscrew, was built to create employment in the local area, all the way back in 1743. Towering above its surroundings at 22 metres/72ft high, the barn hides a crow's nest viewing gallery – a serious feat of engineering.

Once a monastic retreat (that was ransacked during an 18th century rebellion), Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park is now a living testament to Ireland’s peatlands. A biodiversity tour introduces the amazing flora and fauna of the area – watch out for the Irish hare!

Wild Atlantic Way

There's magic in the air between Mayo and Clare – stony bridges and unusual churches are just two of the curiosities on this part of the Wild Atlantic Way.  
West of Louisburgh in the rural heart of County Mayo is a curious bridge that was made to bring walkers over a wide, shallow river. Using a design called “clapper”, Roman in origin, the bridge has 37 arches with a flat slab of limestone resting on smaller stony piers. While it may look ancient, Mayo’s bridge – the largest of its kind in Ireland at 130 metres/50ft long – was created around the 1840s by a local Church of Ireland community. 

Cnoc Suain (meaning "quiet hill") is a restored 17th century village in Spiddal set in 200 acres of Connemara’s rolling bogland. Here you'll find an ancient patch of ground, where perfectly preserved bog bodies have been found. It is also currently home to the wonder plant, sphagnum moss, which can hold over 20 times its own body weight in water.    

It’s 1839 in a small parish in West Clare and the local population is suffering with a cholera outbreak. A priest called Father Michael Meehan is sent to attend to dying victims, but finds himself without a church as local landlords refuse to allow one to be built on their lands. Father Meehan’s response? In 1852, the determined priest arranges for a local carpenter to build a wooden box on wheels, which is rolled on to the beach at low tide to give mass to the locals. Eventually in 1857, a solid church is built, known as the Church of the Little Ark. The original “Little Ark” has lasted all this time, and can be visited in it new home within the church – a testament to Father Meehan's fortitude.

The beautiful Blasket Islands – which were abandoned in the 1950s – are accessed by what has to be one of the most picturesque harbours in Ireland, Dunquin. Blasket Islanders would arrive here having crossed the turbulent Atlantic Ocean in their wooden currachs (traditional boats), making the harbour a vital access point for supplies. Today, you can now catch a ferry to the island from Dunquin, and the harbour has been remodelled. Afterwards, take shelter in The Blasket Centre in Dunquin village, where you can find out more about the life of the islanders.    

Cork’s idyllic Gougane Barra Forest Park is home to St Finbarr's Oratory, close to a former 6th century monastery. 
 Dursey Island off the coast of County Cork is accessible by Ireland’s only cable car – and one of the few cable cars in Europe that traverses open sea. If you can handle looking down, you may spot dolphins and whales playing amongst the waves!  

Find more information about visiting Ireland.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Irish Scenery a Star in New BBC Television Series, Normal People

County Sligo’s breathtaking scenery  and  Dublin’s historical landmarks are bit hits on the new BBC television series, Normal People, which began airing this week on BBC and on the online streaming platform Hulu.  

The series is a TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s popular novel Normal People.

Tourism Ireland – in conjunction with production company Element Pictures – has created a short, behind-the-scenes film using footage shot during filming for Normal People, in which director Lenny Abrahamson, producer Catherine Magee and actress Daisy Edgar-Jones (Marianne) describe and praise the special locations chosen for filming.

To view the behind-the-scenes film, click here.

Filming for the highly anticipated 12-part TV series took place here in 2019 – on Streedagh Beach, at Ben Bulben and in Tubbercurry, in Sligo. The Dublin scenes were filmed in a number of real-life locations, including bars, cafés and streets – with much of the drama unfolding in Trinity College Dublin, where the characters Marianne and Connell, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, go to university.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said,  “We are extremely grateful to Element Pictures for their generosity in agreeing to make this behind-the-scenes film with us. It allows us to keep the beauty of Ireland to the fore and to showcase our authentic home-grown talent. While we may not be able to travel just now, this film will inspire people for their future visit.”

In the behind-the-scenes film, director Lenny Abrahamson praises Ireland, saying: “It felt wonderful to be bringing such an amazing novel to life in the country where I’m from and in the landscapes which I love and know so well, both urban and rural.”

Speaking about Sligo, Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays Marianne, said: “One of my favourite places to film would probably have been Sligo. It was just the most jaw-dropping entrance to any place I’ve ever experienced. When you see Ben Bulben in the distance, it’s just immense.”

Follow news from Ireland on twitter at #DreamNowTravelLater.

Find out more about visiting Ireland here.

For information about New England's Irish-American community visit

Friday, April 24, 2020

Tourism Ireland Video, I Will Return - Fill Your Heart with Ireland

Tourism Ireland has released a new video - I Will Return, Fill Your Heart with Ireland - reminding people of the magic of Ireland.

The 50 second spot highlights Ireland's beautiful landscapes and seascapes, its back roads and magnificent cliffs, its historical castles and and streams and lakes.  The theme is #DreamNowTravelLater.

Read more about the Fill Your Heart with Ireland campaign.

Here are more ways to Discover Ireland from Home.

For an archives of stories about Ireland for New Englanders, visit the Boston Irish Tourism Association's Ireland page.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The World's Largest Collection of Free Online Traditional Irish Music Performances

The world's largest collection of traditional Irish music video recordings is available online from TG4, a public service television channel which broadcasts in Irish and is available free across Ireland. 

Click here to see the entire playlist.

Among the traditional musicians featured are fiddler Junior Crehan, tin whistle player Mary Bergin and fiddler/flutist Frankie Gavin.

TG4 also presents the annual Gradam Ceoil Awards to the world's top traditional Irish musicians. In 2020, Irish fiddler Seamus Connolly received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.  Connolly's important Collection of Irish Music is housed at Boston College's John J. Burns Library.

Locally, you can learn more about traditional Irish music by visiting Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann's Boston chapter, which holds regular sessions and performances, and offers educational classes.

For year-round access to New England's Irish community, visit

Americans Can Discover their Irish Roots online

Tourism officials in Ireland are encouraging Irish-Americans to discover their Irish family history online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A good place to start your quest is the National Archives of Ireland, where you can access census and other records through 11 searchable databases.

In addition, holds Church and civil records of births, deaths and marriages and also provides links to several other useful websites.

Another great resource is, which has over 20 million records in the most extensive database of Catholic Church records anywhere online.

View The Odyssey of Irish Genealogy video below.

For Americans have Ulster-Scots roots, visit Ulster Historical Foundation. Video tutorials on the site for suggestions on how to proceed.

The Ireland Family History Facebook page is an invaluable resource where you can ask questions and be inspired by other people’s success.

When visiting Ireland, check out The Irish Emigration Museum (EPIC) in Dublin. It tells the authentic story of 10 million journeys and uncovers the roots of 70 million people through a hi-tech journey that shows the impact of Ireland’s emigrants across the globe.

Epic Ireland also contains an Irish Family History Centre operated by genealogical specialists, who offer family tree DNA testing kits so visitors can learn about their Irish roots. To get a flavor of what EPIC is about, take a virtual tour. With embedded audio and video descriptions about each gallery, the tour will transport you into Ireland’s dramatic emigration story and increase your pride in being part of the great Irish diaspora.

You can find more genealogy resources at

For more about the Irish-American cultural community in New England, visit

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Boston's JFK Library Offers Inspiring Digital Materials from Archives & Museum Holdings

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston has launched a weekly email digest filled with opportunities for individuals and families to learn or be inspired by material from the JFK Library's collections, as well as educational material for parents and educators to use at home. 

Items from the Library's archival and museum holdings are being posted through JFK Library's social media channels, including TwitterFacebook, and Instagram under the hashtag #JFKLfromHome. 

"President Kennedy believed deeply that each of us can make a difference and everyone should try," said JFK Foundation Executive Director Rachel Flor.  "Never has that been more true than right now. We thank you for everything you are doing for your family, community, and the country and look forward to connecting with you over email and online in the days to come."

Irish Dance Master Class is Available through AirBnB

An Irish Master Dance Class from Salthill, County Galway, is one of several dozen online experiences being introduced by Airbnb

The Irish dance class is being led by Irish dancer Aneta, who writes on her page:

"I'm a professional dancer, musician, and educator who loves teaching. I taught workshops at the world's largest Celtic music festival (Celtic Connections), worked with the world-renowned Irish band Kíla, and toured Europe and US.

“I've hosted in-person Airbnb dance experiences in my home here in Ireland. They're among the most popular experiences in Galway. I believe dance is a powerful tool for human expression that can improve people's mental health and happiness. I’d like to use dance as a platform to bring together people of various social backgrounds and nationalities. Learning dance in my late teens, I still remember how it feels in the beginning! So come relax, learn, dance, and enjoy yourselves!”

The class is conducted online, and is $11 per class per person. Once participants book, they receive a link with details on how to join the class.  

Find a whole range of Airbnb online experiences - from cooking and yoga to music and writing - now available.

For information on New England's Irish-American community, visit