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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Win Free Tix to Irish Concerts, Play & Film Screening in New England

The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) is giving away free pairs of tickets to a dozen performances in New England.  They include Danu, A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn,  Celtic Woman, Dougie MacLean, Eileen Ivers and Nathan Carter as well as the play Once and a new Irish film, Float like a Butterfly.

Click here to see the contest descriptions.

Venues include the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, The Cabot in Beverly, Boston Center for the Arts in the South End, Somerville Theatre in Davis Square, Capitol Center for the Art in Concord, NH, Providence Performing Arts Center in RI, the Bushnell in Hartford, CT, the Hanover Theatre in Worcester and the Wilbur Theatre in Boston.

BITA was formed in 2000 to promote the region's Irish cultural activities and to strengthen travel ties between New England and Ireland/Northern Ireland/Scotland.

Here is a calendar of March activities for St. Patrick's Day season.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Scottish fiddle champ Mari Black & accordion star Cory Pesaturo at Blackstone River Theatre on February 16

Multi-style violinist and champion fiddler Mari Black performs at Blackstone River Theatre at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 16, 2019.  Tickets are $16 by reserving them at 401 725-9272, or $20 at the door the night of the concert. 

A two-time U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion, Mari has won numerous titles, including  the Glenfiddich Scottish Fiddle Champion and Canadian Maritime Fiddle Champion.

Joining Black onstage is three-time world accordion champion CoryPesaturo, and together they play a variety of jazz tunes, klezmer horas, tangos, American rags, Celtic reels, and more. 

Here is a schedule of upcoming concerts at Blackstone River Theatre, located in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

2019 St. Patrick's Day Parades in Massachusetts & Rhode Island

(BOSTON) -- The Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA) has compiled the 2019 schedule of St. Patrick’s Day parades taking place in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in March. See parade details here.

The marching season kicks off on Saturday, March 9 with the Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and ends on Sunday, March 24 with the newly announced St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Weymouth.  One highlight this year is the Abington parade, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary as one of the premier parades in New England.

Since one in five residents of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island claim Irish ancestry, the St. Patrick’s Day season is a chance for visitors to explore the state’s rich ethnic culture, history and heritage. 

In addition, Ireland's St. Patrick's Day festivities in Dublin run from March 14-18.

Here is information on other New England Irish activities in March 2019

BITA publishes three issues of Travel & Culture magazine in March, June and November.  The free magazine, available at tourism outlets, hotels and cultural venues, focuses on Irish cultural activities in Massachusetts and the New England states, as well as travel to and from Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

See current issue of Travel & Culture here. Past issues can be viewed in our archive.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady Traces His Irish Roots to 19th Century Boston

When he was drafted by the New England Patriots as sixth round pick in 2000, quarterback Tom Brady was actually returning to his ancestral family roots that began a century and a half earlier.  Brady’s family emigrated from Ireland in the mid-19th century, fleeing the Irish famine, and settled in Boston before heading out to California where Brady was born and raised.

Boston Globe reporter Bob Hohler wrote an excellent account of Brady’s family history, based on research by Jim McNiff, an amateur genealogist "who helped produce the first public evidence that Brady’s father’s paternal lineage extends deep into the history of Boston, where the Patriots great would gain his fame and fortune and make his home.”

Hohler writes about Boston in the 1840s and 1850s:

Hordes of Boston’s new Irish had survived treacherous Atlantic crossings on packed vessels called coffin ships because so many died. Many contracted typhus on the ocean journey and cholera in their new city. They found work where they could, men generally as laborers on the wharves, women as servants in the homes of the privileged descendants of Boston’s early settlers.

Like many immigrants during this period, John and Bridget Brady stayed in Boston for a few years before heading west with Bridget’s sister Ann and her husband Lawrence Meegan.  They settled in San Francisco, where they lived in the Mission District.  Brady’s ancestors, McNiff reports, included a professional baseball player, a fireman and a police sergeant turned newspaper reporter.

John and Bridget Brady are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in San Mateo County, California

Brady has referred to his Irish ancestry numerous times, including in 2009, when the Patriots played in London. 

“My father is 100 percent Irish. We took a trip over there together and visited some of the places where my family came from,’’ Brady told Irish America Magazine. “That was a great experience for me, and obviously I am very proud of my Irish roots.’’

Brady continued, “I’ve really enjoyed my time over there. Anyone who’s been over to that part of the world comes away with a greater sense of history.”

According to IrishCentral, Brady’s great-great-grandfather was from County Cavan and his great-great-grandmother was from County Cork.

For more in Boston Irish history and heritage, visit

Follow Irish cultural activities in Boston at