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Showing posts from February, 2021

Martin Milmore's Masterpiece, the Soldiers & Sailors Monument on Boston Common

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The Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common, unveiled on September 17, 1876, was the masterpiece of sculptor Martin Milmore, who emigrated from County Sligo in 1851 with his widowed mother and four brothers, all of whom became noted artists and sculptors.  Milmore was recognized as a gifted artist as a schoolboy when he attended the Brimmer School and Boston Latin School. He apprenticed to noted Boston sculptor Thomas Ball, famous for the George Washington Statue in the Boston Public Garden and the Daniel Webster statue in Central Park, New York.  Shortly after Milmore received the commission and the cornerstone was laid by city officials in September 1871, Milmore moved to Rome, Italy, where he spent the next five years modeling his designs, inspired by classical Italian sculpture. The contract stipulated that the statues and the body of the monument should be granite, and the bas-reliefs marble white. Milmore wrote to the commission from Rome, asking and receiving their perm

Massachusetts Educator Annie Sullivan, The Miracle Worker

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 Top:  Helen Keller + Annie Sullivan  Statue in Tewksbury; Plaque at Radcliffe College in Cambridge; Bottom: Memorial Sign and Stone Marker in Agawam, Massachusetts Annie Sullivan was known in her lifetime as the Miracle Worker for her work with the blind, including her prized student Helen Keller.  The daughter of impoverished Irish immigrants. Annie was born on April 14, 1866 in Feeding Hills, Agawam, Massachusetts and died on October 20, 1936.   When she was five, Annie contracted trachoma, an eye disease caused by bacteria, which caused her to become partially blind.  After her mother died in 1874, eight year old Annie and her brother Jimmie were sent to the Tewksbury Almshouse, known as the Poor House for indigent people.  Conditions were horrible, and her brother Jimmie died shortly after arriving.   When state officials arrived to conduct an investigation of the almshouse, Annie convinced the commissioners to send her to the  Perkins Institution  in South Boston, which taugh

Irish Women of Massachusetts

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Clockwise from top left: Sculpture by Margaret Foley; Poet Louise Guiney; Teacher Annie Sullivan, Labor Leader Margaret Foley, Matriarch Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Labor Leader Mary Kenny O'Sullivan; Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver; and Teacher/Astronaut Christa Corrigan McAuliffe March is Irish Heritage Month and also Women’s History Month in Massachusetts. In honor of both, here is a selection of 8 Irish women who have had an impact here in the Bay State. Margaret Foley (1820-1877) Born in Dorset, VT, Margaret worked in the textile mills in Lowell, while pursuing her interest in poetry and art, specializing in carving cameos. In Boston she created cameos of opera star Jenny Lind, poet Henry Longfellow and Senator Charles Sumner and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe. In 1861 Foley moved to Rome, Italy and mastered the intricate art of medallions. Her work, including an acclaimed portrait of Cleopatra, were featured at the Philadelphia Centennial Expo in 1876. Her work

Irish Cultural Centre of New England Marks Black History Month with Lectures Series by Dr. Christine Kinealy

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In celebration of Black History Month, the Irish Cultural Centre of New England is hosting a series of three zoom lectures by historian and author Dr. Christine Kinealy entitled Black Abolitionists: From Boston to Ireland.  Dr. Kinealy is the author of Black Abolitionists in Ireland . All lectures begin at 6 p.m. Topics include: February 23: Daniel O'Connell and William L. Garrison March 2: Sarah Parker Redmond, a Black Abolitionist in Ireland March 9: Home Rule and African American Support.  These lectures are free but RSVP is required.  Please send rsvp to mdooher@irishculture.org  This program is supported by the Government of Ireland: Emigrant Support Program , and Quinnipiac University Ireland's Great Hunger Institute . 

Baseball star Mike 'King' Kelly signs with the Boston Beaneaters on February 14, 1887

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  Mike King Kelly , one of the premier baseball players of the late 19th century, signed a deal to play for the  Boston Beaneaters  on February 14, 1887 for a record $10,000, the highest price paid for a professional athlete up to that time.  The Boston Globe reported that Kelly left the Chicago White Stockings in a deal negotiated on Valentine's Day in Poughkeepsie, NY between Kelly and Beaneater treasurer J.B. Billings. "Diamonds cannot be bought with shoestrings," Kelly said as "he toyed with a diminutive cane and puffed at a Sweet Caporal cigarette," according to the Globe.  Kelly had three great years with the Beaneaters, then went on to coach and play for the Boston Reds in the short-lived Players League.  Described as a larger-than-life character, Kelly was as notorious off the field as on.  A great base runner, he had his own song,  Slide Kelly Slide , a popular ditty written by J.W. Kelly and sung by Maggie Kline.  Along with Boston Globe reporter Willi

Irish-American Sculptor Thomas Crawford, Master of Classical, Civil War and Patriotic Sculptures

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Born in New York City to Irish parents, Thomas Crawford (1813-1857) is regarded as one of America's first significant sculptors. His biographer Henry T. Tuckerman described him as having "the ardor of Irish temperament and the vigor of an American character," while Loredo Taft notes that he attracted "the very choicest spirits of the world of art and literature" during his short life. A tumor behind his left eye killed Crawford at the early age of 44. Crawford moved to Europe when he was 21 and settled in Rome, where he lived much of his life. In 1844 he brought an exhibition of his work to Boston, where local institutions enthusiastically began purchasing his work. His bust of Beethoven, which he created from Rome in 1855 for the Boston Music Hall, is said to be "the first statue raised in America to an artist of any kind." The bronze bust is currently at the New England Conservatory.  Orpheus and Cerberus, at  MFA Boston The Museum of Fine Arts has f

Quarterback Tom Brady Traces His Irish Roots to 19th Century Boston

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Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers When he was drafted by the New England Patriots as sixth round pick in 2000, quarterback Tom Brady was in fact returning to his family's ancestral 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