The Charitable Irish Society, founded in Boston in 1737, will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner with special guest speaker John Sweeney, President Emeritus of the The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO).
The son of Irish immigrants and union members, John Sweeney is renowned for his lifelong dedication to improving the lives of American working people. At the dinner, he will address the importance of the Irish in the American labor movement and 100th anniversary of the Dublin General Strike.
Funds raised through the dinner will benefit the Society's Silver Key Fund which provides essential financial aid, housing assistance and employment opportunities to members of the local Irish community.
Ranking as the oldest Irish organization in North America, the Society is credited with having organized the first St. Patrick's Day celebration in Boston in 1737.
Since its inception, the Society has maintained a mission: to cultivate a spirit of unity and harmony among Irish residents and their descendants; to aid members of the local community by providing essential financial aid, housing assistance and employment opportunities; and to promote Irish culture in all its forms. As such, the Society regularly partners with a host of local organizations including the Irish Immigration Center, the Irish Pastoral Centre, The Ancient Order of Hibernians, Cathedral Cares and Nativity Preparatory School.
Commenting on the Society's commitment to community involvement, Society President Paul McNamara said, "By having the ability to respond quickly to a wide range of emergency needs, The Society fills a critical niche that many other charitable groups are not able to meet. We are proud to note that the Society is an entirely volunteer organization, with our Board working tirelessly to aid those who might otherwise have no means to receive vital assistance."
He added, "The motto attached to our original founding articles is 'With Good Will, Doing Service.' For the past 276 years, the Society has been dedicated to that responsibility -- providing service, whenever necessary, to Irish men and women, both here and in Ireland.
Projects through history have included providing relief during the Irish Potato Famine and supporting the Immigrant Aid Society of 1850. More recent projects have involved offering financial assistance for critical medical care, assisting with handicapped accessible home conversions, and providing airfare assistance for travel to a parent's funeral in Ireland.
Since 1996, the Society has played an integral role in "Catch the Spirit-Citizenship," a program that encourages Irish residents to become United States citizens. Workshops covering all aspects of the application process are offered by volunteers from the Society, the Irish Immigration Center, and the Irish Pastoral Centre at sites in Brighton, Quincy, Dorchester and South Boston. The program has seen more than 1,000 citizenship applications processed and submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, resulting in countless new American citizens.
The history of the Society is deeply rooted in the history of Boston and the United States of America. Boston’s Irish community stretches back to the early 18th century when considerable numbers of Ulster Presbyterians came to New England in search of economic opportunity as well as the religious and political freedom which the Penal Laws denied to dissenters and Roman Catholics alike.
Early Society Members
A variety of merchants, tradesmen, lawyers, teachers, and artisans from Ulster founded the Charitable Irish Society in 1737 with the express purpose of assisting fellow Irish immigrants in the traumatic process of settling in an unfamiliar city and country.
Tickets for the dinner, priced at $175 are available by visiting www.charitableirishsociety.org or calling 617 330-1737.
Historic film of old Ireland from 1934 (VIDEO)