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Monday, September 21, 2020

Scituate Unveils Monument to the Irish Rising of 1916


On Sunday, September 20, 2020, the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) joined with Scituate Selectman John Sullivan and other local leaders in Scituate, Massachusetts to unveil a monument to Ireland's Easter Rising of 1916.

The monument, which is located at the band gazebo on Cole Parkway in Scituate, features the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, the famous document that was read aloud by Irish patriot Padraig Pearse on the steps of the Dublin Post Office in 1916, calling for an Ireland independent from Britain.

Ireland's Consul General in Boston Laoise Moore was the featured speaker at the Scituate ceremony.

"The Easter Rising in 1916 was a hugely significant event in Irish history," Consul General Moore told the Scituate Mariner newspaper.  "While the Rising itself did not immediately lead to the creation of the Irish Republic, it set in train a series of events which ultimately led to the creation of the Irish Free State, and after that the Republic." 

This is the second monument in Massachusetts relating to the 1916 Easter Rising. On May 22, 2016, U.S. Congressman Richie Neal joined the AOH and community leaders to unveil a Garden of Remembrance in Forest Park, Springfield.  

For a historical perspective on Massachusetts' activities during the 1916 Uprising, read Michael Quinlin's story, Boston and the Irish Rising, in Irish America Magazine.

Find more about Irish-American history by visiting the Irish Heritage Trail, a compilation of landmarks, memorials and public buildings that tell the story of the Irish in Boston since the 17th century.  

The Boston Irish Tourism Association is currently compiling a statewide version of the Irish Heritage Trail in Massachusetts.  For more details, or to suggest a site, please contact irishmassachusetts@comcast.net. 



Saturday, September 19, 2020

Traditional Irish Music and Cuisine at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton this weekend, September 19-20

 

Nathan Gourley & Joey Abarta

The Irish Cultural Centre of New England has some great activities lined up for the weekend of September 19-20, 2020, to celebrate Halfway to St. Patrick's Day.

On Saturday, September 19, enjoy a traditional Irish music session at 5 p.m. with uilleann piper Joey Abarta and fiddler Nathan Gourley.  Then at 6:30 p.m., enjoy Barry Hynes, Amanda Biagi and Dave Barry.

On Sunday, September 20, enjoy lunch in the outdoor big tent at 1 p.m., followed by music by Devri at 2 p.m. 

For dining reservations, please call 781 821-8291 or email iccpub@irishculture.org. 


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Margaret Foley, Dorchester's Irish Suffrage Leader


Labor organizer and women's rights advocate Margaret Lillian Foley (1873-1957) was born to a working class Irish-American family at Meeting House Hill in Dorchester, Boston's largest neighborhood.  

With only a high school education from Girls' High School in Roxbury, Foley had a daring personality and a "voice like a trumpet."  

She worked in a hat factory organizing women workers and was a board member of the Women's Trade Union League, founded in Boston in 1903 by Mary Kenney O'Sullivan as part of the American Federal of Labor. 

As equal rights issues moved from the workplace to the political front, Foley became involved with the campaign to let women vote in all government elections, becoming  a member of the Massachusetts Women's Suffrage Association. 

During this time, she earned and enjoyed the nickname The Grand Heckler for her willingness to confront male politicians in public settings such as the Boston Stock Exchange and the Chamber of Commerce, and on the campaign trail, demanding the right to vote for women.  

As a working class Irish Catholic, she encountered resistance and indifference from the elite leadership of Boston's suffragist movement, which objected to her in-your-face tactics.  She moved onto the national stage, helping to gain the women's vote in Nevada in 1914.  According to historian Dennis Ryan in his book, Beyond the Ballot Box, "she crisscrossed the state for two months, talking to more than 20,000 men.  She braved dust storms, rode horseback, and socialized with ranchers and cowboys who often proposed to her."

Foley returned to Boston in 1918 and continued her work with the suffrage movement, but again was at odds with the elite officers, according to author Susan Deutsch in her book, Women and the City.  When the federal government finally allowed women to vote in 1920, Foley went on the lecture circuit, speaking mainly at Catholic Women's clubs.

The Collected Papers of Margaret Lillian Foley are held at Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, Boston Irish Suffrage Leader



In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment (August 26, 1920) giving women the right to vote, here's our shout-out to Mary Kenney O'Sullivan (1864-1943), tireless labor organizer and suffrage leader during her accomplished life. 

Born in Missouri to Irish immigrants, Mary worked in Chicago and New York as a union organizer before moving to Boston’s South End in 1893. She organized rubber makers, shoe makers and garment workers, shops where women were paid poorly and suffered bad working conditions. 

When her husband John O’Sullivan died, she continued her work, creating the National Women’s Trade Union League and taking part in the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA.  

She wrote an important broadside, Why the Working Women Need the Vote, that was widely circulated and an influential part of the debate. 


The Massachusetts State House has a plaque entitled Hear Us, honoring Kenney and five other women.  The literature that accompanies this exhibit, written by Ellen K. Rothman of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, describes Mary Kenney O'Sullivan in this way:


As leader of the WTUL, Mary O'Sullivan forged alliances between middle-and working-class women.  A leader in Massachusetts reform circles, she focused her efforts on woman suffrage, housing for the poor, prohibition, and pacifism.  However, her highest priority remained the advancement of working women.

Mary Kenney O'Sullivan is part of BITA's Irish Women of Massachusetts series in celebration of Irish Heritage Month and Women's History Month. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Boston Common Signage Tells the Story of the Shaw Memorial, 54th Black Regiment, Colonel Shaw and the Irish-born Sculptor


A corridor of 900 feet of interpretive signs is now encircling a section of Boston Common where the famous Colonel Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, part of a $3 million restoration of the city’s most famous statue.

The interpretive signage tell the story of the American Civil War, the 54th Black Infantry, the Shaw Memorial and the immigrant sculptor who created the masterpiece, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  In addition, the panels include handwritten letters by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, and initial sketches and portraits by Saint-Gaudens.

Boston’s most iconic public monument, the Shaw Memorial, was officially unveiled on May 31, 1897.  The homage to the 54th Black Infantry Regiment of Boston is considered one of America’s most significant Civil War memorials.   It was the first public monument to accurately depict black soldiers in military uniform.

A group of partners have come together to oversee and fund the restoration, including the National Park ServiceCity of Boston, Friends of the Public Garden and Museum of African American History

According to the Friends of the Public Garden, all of the bronze and stone is being removed from the plaza level up.  These materials are being taken offsite to a conservation studio, and new waterproofing will be installed under the plaza’s brick. A new concrete foundation is being built under the bronze.


Saint-Gaudens was born of French and Irish parents in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to Boston with his family in September 1848, at the height of the Irish Famine.  The family later moved to New York, where Saint Gaudens began studying art and sculpture, later moving to Paris, France to enhance his skills and knowledge of classical sculpture traditions.

It took Saint-Gaudens fourteen years to complete the memorial, partly because there was an early disagreement within the memorial commission about how the piece should look, but also because  the perfectionist artist approached the project in a painstaking manner: seeking out forty black men in New York to use as models, from which he chose 16 to appear on the final memorial.  He also spent considerable time wrangling with the commission about the exact wording of the inscriptions.

Of the delay, Saint Gaudens wrote, “My own delay I excuse on the ground that a sculptor’s work endures for so long that it is next to a crime for him to neglect to do everything that lies in his power  to execute a result that will not be a disgrace….A poor picture goes into the garret, books are forgotten, but the bronze remains, to amuse or shame the populace.”

Created in 1634, Boston Common is the nation's oldest public park, and the site of important gatherings over the past 390 years.  

The Shaw 54th Memorial is part of the Black Heritage Trail and the Irish Heritage Trail

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Norman Rockwell Museum Features Exhibit on Rose O'Neill, Artist & Suffragette


The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge MA has a new exhibit titled, Rose O'Neill: Artist & Suffragette, on display through September, 2020.

The exhibit is timely since 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of American women formally given the right to vote, a cause to which O'Neill was devoted.

Born in Wilkes Barre, PA, Rose O'Neill (1874-1944) and her family moved to Nebraska when she was young, and grew up in an artistic household where creative expression was encouraged and prized.  A self-taught illustrator, O'Neill moved to New York City at age 19 and soon her work was being published in leading magazines such as Harper's, Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, as well as Puck Magazine. 

In 1909 O'Neill created the popular characters the Kewpies dolls, elf-like figures that were immediately popular with the general public.  The merchandising of Kewpie dolls made O'Neill a millionaire, according to the exhibition notes.


O'Neill became heavily involved in the women's suffrage movement in 1915, and for the next five years gave speeches, illustrated posters and marched in parades, as the momentum built to give women the right to vote.

After passing through U.S. Congress on June 4, 1919, and receiving the necessary three-fourths approval of the states on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was officially ratified by the U.S. Secretary of State on August 26, 1920. 

The Amendment states:  "The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

This special exhibit is possible thanks to the generous donation of artwork by the Rose O'Neill Foundation, an organization created by her descendants.  The artwork was donated to the Norman Rockwell Museum in 2018 to help preserve O'Neill's legacy as one of the most influential illustrators of the 20th century. 

Founded in 1969, the Norman Rockwell Museum contains the world's largest collection of illustrations, paintings and art by Norman Rockwell, one of America's beloved artists whose iconic work captured the spirit of the United States in the 20th century.  He lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life.

Read about Massachusetts Irish-American women, and visit IrishMassachusetts.com for more about the Irish-American cultural community.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Irish Singer Grace Foley Performs online for Irish Cultural Centre on July 7


Popular Irish singer Grace Foley is performing a live Facebook concert for the Irish Cultural Centre of New England at 4 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, July 7.

A native of Killarney, County Kerry and classically trained since the age of 14, Grace has studied with some of Ireland’s  leading professionals, including the late Aine Nic Ghabhann, James Nelson of The Celtic Tenors and renowned Irish soprano Virginia Kerr.  She sings a range of Irish songs, contemporary melodies and classical classics.

Learn more about the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, which has recently reopened its outdoor dining facilities.  For reservations,  contact 781-821-8281 or email kryder@irishculture.org 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Boston Pops Celebrates Independence Day with Salute to Our Heroes on July 4

Maestro Keith Lockhart

Due to COVID-19, this year's Boston Pops concert is a spectacular 3-hour broadcast: A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes.  It takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, and can be viewed on Bloomberg TV, at Bloomberg.com, and on Boston's Channel 7, WHDH.

Leading the celebrations is Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart joined by Bloomberg's Kim Carrigan, Janet Wu, and Joe Shortsleeve.

Find more information here.

This year's show features previous musical performances from recent years including Andy Grammer, Leslie Odom Jr., Rhiannon Giddens, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, and more. Rita Moreno and Amanda Gorman contribute moving narration and poetry accompanied by the masterful Boston Pops. 

The show includes newly-created recorded virtual performance pieces by Boston Symphony and Boston Pops players as well as the Middlesex County Volunteer Fifes and Drums. Many friends of the Boston Pops also share special video messages to commemorate our nation's birthday. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Boston Irish Host Online Discussion on Black Lives Matter on June 19


Community leaders from Boston's Irish community are holding an online discussion of Black Lives Matter at Noon on Friday, June 19, 2020.

The event is being sponsored by Irish Network Boston, Boston Irish and Rian Immigrant Center.  

Among the panelists are Massachusetts State Senator Nick Collins, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, Ireland's Consul General Laoise Moore, Hon. Linda Dorcena Forry and Bill Forry, and Ronnie Miller.   Cristela Guerra, WBUR Arts and Culture reporter, is moderator. 

To participate, please RSVP to msmith@riancenter.org. 

Learn more about Rian Immigrant Center


Friday, June 12, 2020

Irish Consulate Hosts Bloomsday Luncheon Honoring James Joyce at Irish Cultural Centre on June 14

The Consulate General of Ireland and the Irish Cultural Centre are celebrating the works of Irish author James Joyce with a luncheon at the Centre at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, 2020.

Tickets to the event are $20 and include a three-course lunch as well as songs and music by Maureen and Gerry McNally, and a special appearance by the 'Here Comes Everybody Players.'

Bloomsday is an annual celebration around the world that pays tribute to Dublin-born James Joyce, whose novel, Ulysses, is proclaimed as one of the world's literary masterpieces. In that novel, Leopold Bloom is the main character who wanders around Dublin on June 16 as the novel unfolds over 18 episodes. 

Dublin has a James Joyce Center dedicated to Ireland's most famous writer.  Read more about Dublin, named as a City of Literature by UNESCO

For information on traveling to Ireland, visit Ireland.com.