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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Boston's Irish Famine Memorial Unveiled 20 Years Ago, on June 28, 1998

Boston's Irish Famine Memorial was unveiled before a crowd of 7,000 people on Sunday, June 28, 1998 at the corner of School and Washington Street along Boston's Freedom Trail and Irish Heritage Trail.

The $1 million Memorial commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine which occurred in Ireland between 1845-1849, killing nearly one million people and forcing another two million people to emigrate to  Boston, New York, Halifax and other eastern seaboard cities.

The memorial project was headed by the late Thomas J. Flatley, along with Michael Cummings and others from the Boston community. 

At the time of the memorial's unveiling, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson wrote, "I hope people who come here reflect on the survivors.  And remember, we are the survivors of the survivors." 

Since Boston's Irish Famine Memorial was unveiled, other memorials to the Famine generation were unveiled in Lawrence, Charlestown, MA, and Providence, RI

For year round details on Boston's Irish cultural community, visit

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Issue of Travel & Culture Magazine Focuses on Visiting New England and Ireland

(BOSTON) -- This month the Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) released its 2018 summer issue of Travel & Culture Guide, a compendium of Irish 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 and is available in digital format online.   It has a shelf life through October 2018. 

In New England, the magazine features outdoor festivals concerts, from Boston to Tanglewood and from Cumberland RI up to Rockport, MA.  Some of the performers at Tanglewood this summer include rock/blues/folk legends James Taylor, Bonnie Rait, Ry Cooder and Emmy Lou Harris.  The Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf continues its Summer in the City series with free concerts Tuesdays through Thursdays, and free movies every Friday through August 31.  

In Ireland, Travel & Culture lists the top festivals across the island through October, include music festivals like the Fleadh Cheoil taking place in August, which draws upwards of 400,000 people. And it has details on the new Norwegian Air direct service from Providence's T. F. Green Airport to Dublin, Shannon, Cork, Belfast and Edinburgh.  

BITA is celebrating its 18th year as a year-round, cultural tourism organization that promotes the state’s largest ethnic community.  The US Census reports that nearly 24% of all Massachusetts residents claim Irish ancestry.

BITA publishes three issues of Travel & Culture  in March, June and November, and also developed the Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail, which highlights Irish landmarks throughout Boston and around the state.

For further details on festivals and concerts, as well as year-round Irish and cultural activities, hotel packages, gift shops and Irish pubs, visit

Walk Boston's Irish Heritage Trail this Saturday, June 23

Photo of Kevin White Statue at Faneuil Hall, courtesy of BITA

Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) is offering a guided tour of Boston's Irish Heritage Trail at 10 a.m. this Saturday, June 23, 2018, led by tour guide Ted Kulik, an expert on local history.

The tour begins at the Visitor Information Center on Boston Common and covers 10 stops along the Trail.  Admission is $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, students and military.  Children under 12 go free when accompanied by a parent.  Fill out the reservation form here, or purchase your ticket the day of the tour at the VIC.

See video from Chronicle/WCVB5 ABC on the origins of the Trail and what's on it.

The Irish Heritage Trail was created in 1994 and covers over 300 years of Boston Irish history, from colonial Irish like Governor James Sullivan and Boston Massacre victim Patrick Carr, to 19th Century Civil War heroes and the Famine generation, to 20th century political leaders, builders and social activists.

BITA's Travel & Culture magazine has a full map of the trail in its summer issue, available for free at the Boston Common Visitor Information Center and other outlets around Boston.

Find year round details on Boston's Irish community at

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Irish Were Boston's First Refugees

History is replete with stories about refugees from around the world coming to Boston, Massachusetts, seeking help from tragedies of historic proportions that were too massive for them to face. Very often they were poorly received, as locals feared the burden these immigrants would have on society. 

One of the most compelling chapters in the city's history involves Irish immigrants who fled Ireland in the 1840s, fleeing starvation, disease and death.

Many of these refugees fled to Boston, where they arrived, traumatized and ill, having lost parents and children, neighbors and friends. 

News reports describe Irish families huddled in doorways in downtown Boston, begging for food.  A  group of 50 Irish refugees camped out on Boston Common because they had no where to stay.  Many never made it to the mainland, but were held at the quarantine station on Deer Island in Boston Harbor to see if they carried with them typhus or cholera, diseases that later turned up in the crowded tenement buildings along Broad Street and in the North End.

A large number of Irish who made it ashore were eventually sent to the lunatic asylum in South Boston, since they were unable to cope with the tragedy they had experienced.

In June 1998, Boston's Irish community joined with city officials to unveil an Irish Famine Memorial Park in downtown Boston, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this tragic episode in the city's history.  The Memorial remains a stark reminder that many Bostonians today are the descendents of that Irish famine generation. 

The Famine is also a reminder that refugees are still leaving their homelands to escape certain death, and that humanitarian crises in our lifetime must be solved by those who can. 

For learn more about this episode in Boston's history, visit the Irish Famine Memorial, on the corner of School and Washington Street in Downtown Boston, a stop along Boston's

To read more about Boston's Irish history from the 17th century to the present, read Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Canada's Singer/Songwriter Gordon Lightfoot Performs in Rockport on June 12

Rockport Music presents Gordon Lightfoot, the iconic Canadian troubadour, in concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, MA at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. 

Tickets to the concert can be purchased at the venue. 

The singer/songwriter has left quite a mark over the last 50 years, inspiring thousands of aspiring songwriters to follow in his footsteps. His songs belong squarely in the folk canon, including classics like “Early Morning Rain” and “For Lovin’ Me,” as well as 70’s pop hits like “Sundown” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

Here is a schedule of upcoming folk, pop, World and jazz concerts at Shalin Liu this summer and fall. 

Find more about Irish activities in Massachusetts by visiting

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Blackstone River Theatre Solstice Summer Festival takes place on June 16

Fiddler Mari Black

The 8th annual Summer Solstice Festival, presented by the Blackstone River Theatre, takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, 2017 at Diamond Hill Park in CumberlandRI.  Tickets to the festival are just $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for children ages 6-15, and free for children 5 and under.

You can also enter a contest to win a free pair of tickets from the Boston Irish Tourism Association.

The 2018 line-up Includes: The Atwater~Donnelly Trio, Mari Black Celtic Band, Daymark, Eastern Medicine Singers, The Gnomes, The Gothard Sisters, La Croisée D’Antan, Owen Marshall & Jenna Moynihan, Emerald Rae, Torrin Ryan, Sheila Falls & Kyle Forsthoff, Kevin Doyle Dance Showcase: From trad to tap, Tir Na Nog Irish Dance, Irish session led by Bob Drouin  

The Blackstone River Theatre is a year-round cultural arts organization that promotes live music, dance and culture.  Here is a schedule of upcoming events through the fall season.  

Find out about other Irish activities in New England by visiting

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan in Concert at Shalin Liu in Rockport on June 9

Rockport Music presents Ireland's tenor Ronan Tynan in concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Center  in Rockport at 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, 2018.  Purchase tickets online or at the performance center.

Tynan is one of America's beloved performers, especially in New England, where Ronan has performed the national anthem at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, TD Garden and countless concert halls in the region.

"If you can perform songs in a specific way that moves an audience to a wonderful memory, you've achieved everything you set out to do as a performer," Ronan said in an interview a few years ago, validating why the Irish vocalist has such a local following.

Find year round details on Irish music in New England by visiting