Our article on Boston's Irish Heritage Trail— informed by IrishHeritageTrail.com— inspired us to create this gallery of Boston's Irish Heritage Sites, suitable for a self-guided tour on foot or a virtual tour at home in your armchair. Find out the hidden history of the Irish in Boston. This photo shows Irish clam diggers on a Boston wharf in 1882.
Irish-American Rose Kennedy was the daughter of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, who served as Mayor of Boston and represented Massachusetts in the House. She married Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr, and became the mother of nine children, including President John F. Kennedy and Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Boston designated the Rose Kennedy Garden in 1987, eight years before her death, to honor "her contributions to this country, and to the inspiration she has given to us all."
The Rose Kennedy Greenway was named in 2004, nine years after Rose Kennedy's death, as an additional honor for the Kennedy matriarch. The Greenway spans a mile of parks connecting several Boston neighborhoods.
Irish American Kevin White served four terms as Mayor of Boston, holding the office from 1968 to 1984. His greatest achievements included the revitalization of downtown Boston, but his reputation was tarnished with a decade-long federal investigation into alleged corruption in his administration. The statue of White was erected in 2006, and created by sculptor Pablo Eduardo.
James Michael Curley was the son of Irish immigrants, and served as Mayor of Boston four separate terms, as Governor of Massachusetts, and as Massachusetts representative in the House for two terms. Curley was elected to the Boston Board of Aldermen while serving a prison term for fraud, and later served a separate sentence of five months in prison during his fourth term as Mayor of Boston. He was popular with Boston's Irish American community and ran under the manifesto, "Curley Gets Things Done."
Mayor Kevin White revealed two bronze statues of his predecessor, Curley, on Congress Street in 1980. The statues were sculpted by artist Lloyd Lillie. Additional trivia? Curley's character appears in the 1958 movie 'The Last Hurrah,' portrayed by Spencer Tracy.
On the Irish Heritage Trail Tour, Boston City Hall serves as a symbol of the influence of Irish immigrants on Boston politics. Irish American mayors have included the aformentioned James Michael Curley and Kevin White, in addition to Cork-born Hugh O'Brien (1885-88) and Patrick Collins (1902-05). Irish Americans held the mayorship continuously between 1930 and 1993. A stop at the City Hall also bears viewing the sculpture of Mayor John F. Collins (1960-68) on the south side of the Hall.
The Famine in Ireland drove 100,000 Irish to Boston, one of the largest initial forces that left Boston a fundamentally Irish American city. The memorial on School St and Washington was erected in 1998, the 150th anniversary of the Famine, at a cost of $1 million. The memorial includes two statues and eight plaques describing the hardships brought on by the Famine, and the immigrants' faith and hope in its aftermath.
The Granary has been a cemetery since 1660, and holds the graves of many early Irish American settlers, including Governor James Sullivan.
Within the Granary rests the memorial for John Hancock, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock was descended from immigrants from Newry, Co Down.
Patrick Carr was an Irish immigrant and the last victim of the Boston Massacre, and was buried here in the Granary. Carr's deathbed testimony was the most important evidence used to clear the eight British soldiers involved in the Massacre of murder charges. The testimony was as follows: "Q: Were you Patrick Carr's surgeon? Samuel Hemmingway: I was... Q: Was he [Carr] apprehensive of his danger? SH: He told me… he was a native of Ireland, that he had frequently seen mobs, and soldiers called upon to quell them… he had seen soldiers often fire on the people in Ireland, but had never seen them bear half so much before they fired in his life... Q: When had you the last conversation with him? SH: About four o'clock in the afternoon, preceding the night on which he died, and he then particularly said, he forgave the man whoever he was that shot him, he was satisfied he had no malice, but fired to defend himself."
The 1770 obituary of Patrick Carr, Irishman killed in the Boston Massacre, which reads as follows: "Last Wednesday Night died, Patrick Carr, an Inhabitant of this Town, of the Wound he received in King Street on the bloody and execrable Night of the 5th Instant—He had just before left his Home, and upon his coming into the Street received the fatal Ball in his Hipp which passed out at the opposite Side; this is the fifth Life that has been sacrificed by the Rage of the Soldiery, but it is feared it will not be the last, as several others are dangerously languishing of their Wounds. His Remains were attended on Saturday last from Faneuil-Hall by a numerous and respectable Train of Mourners, to the same Grave, in which those who fell by the same Hands of Violence were interred the last Week."
Although the history of Colonel Robert Shaw is independently interesting, the Irish connection with this memorial stems from its creator, the artist Augustus Saint Gaudens. Saint Gaudens was born in Dublin, to a French father and Mary McGuinness of Co Longford. The Shaw Memorial is "Boston's most prized public art," according to the Irish Heritage Trail. Its subject, Col Shaw, led the Massachusetts 54th Black Infantry Regiment in the Civil War. Other Boston repositories of Saint Gaudens' work are the Museum of Fine Arts, Trinity Church, and the Fogg Museum at Harvard.
The Massachusetts State House earns its place on the Irish Heritage Trail through its collection of Massachusetts government artifacts, many of which are Irish-related. A plaque honors Jeremiah O'Brien, an Irish American privateer during the Revolutionary War. Massachusetts' many Irish American governors are immortalized in portraiture. The Memorial Hall holds an exhibition of Irish flags, including ones used by Boston's Irish Regiments in the Civil War. And of course, John F. Kennedy presides over it all, through a statue on the Beacon Street front lawn.
The 9th Regiment during the American Civil War- whose aforementioned flags are held in the Memorial Hall of the State House- stirred ancestral Irish pride in a bid to gain Irish American volunteers.
Thomas Cass hailed from Co Laois, and formed and led the 9th Regiment- one of Massachusetts' volunteer Irish immigrant regiments- during the Civil War. He died from wounds sustained during the Battle of Malvern Hill.
Not only were Irish Americans crucially involved in the Civil War, as the 9th Regiment shows, but also in the creation of the Soldiers and Sailors monument to those fallen in the conflict. The Milmore brothers, born in Co Sligo, created the memorial, which was rare in its praise of common soldiers and sailors as opposed to commissioned officers. The Milmore brothers also designed Civil War memorials in Charlestown and Cambridge, and contributed work to the State House and the Boston Public Library.
Commodore John Barry was born in Co Wexford, and won both the first and last naval battles of the Revolutionary War. Barry was entrusted with the organization of the nascent US Navy by George Washington.
Patrick Carr, previously profiled in this Gallery, was an Irishman and one of the five victims of the Boston Massacre. The movement for the memorial was lead by John Boyle O'Reilly, a Co Meath born poet who wrote and recited a poem for the memorial's 1888 dedication.
Patrick Collins, born in Fermoy, Co Cork, was Boston's second Irish-born mayor, and was the first mayoral candidate in Boston to win every district. He was an advocate for the Irish land league movement and for Irish nationalism.
John Singleton Copley was the son of immigrants from Co Clare, and became one of the foremost portrait artists of his era, depicting George Washington, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. His statue stands in Copley Square Park, also named for him.
David Walsh was both the first Irish Catholic Senator and Governor for the state of Massachusetts. He gave a keynote speech for Eamon DeValera's Fenway Park rally, drawing a crowd of 60,000. A statue of Walsh stands at the Charles River Esplanade at Hatch Shell.
The Boston Public Library houses an Irish collection including primary source documents on the 1798 Uprising, the Abbey Theatre, the birth of the Irish Free State, and Seamus Heaney. The Music collection also holds historic Irish sheet music, while as is to be expected, the Microfilm and Photo collections include items of important Irish American historical interest. The aforementioned Martin Milmore created the marble Lions, the heraldic seals, and the bust of George Ticknor in the Library.
Mentioned earlier, John Boyle O'Reilly was born in Co Meath. He escaped from a penal colony in Australia aboard a whaler ship and made his way to Boston, where he became one of the foremost poets and journalists speaking for the lower classes at the time.
The iconic Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, was designed by Charles Logue, an immigrant from Co Derry. Fenway was also the location of Eamon DeValera's wildly successful rally in 1919 and has hosted many Gaelic Football and Hurling championships.
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