Boston’s new Mayor Martin J Walsh has thanked his Irish aunties for helping him win the city’s top job.
Walsh has told the Irish Times that his aunts traveled from Galway and England to campaign on his behalf.
He said: “They knocked on doors, they visited people and they put me over the top in the election.”
The son of Irish emigrants, the Democrat confirmed that he maintains a strong link with his family’s Connemara roots and is proud of his late dad John and mother Mary’s Galway connections.
A native Irish speaker, he said: “I look at the story of my father and mother growing up on a farm in Ireland and working hard and never getting anything handed to them. That is very much part of my Irish heritage. I am very proud of my Irish heritage.”
The Dorchester native confirmed that he will continue to visit Galway in his new role as Boston mayor after his January inauguration.
He added: “It has been a couple of years since I have been back but I plan on going back after the New Year.”
The paper says Walsh’s story is remarkable after he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a form of cancer, at the age of seven when a special First Communion was held at Christmas because doctors feared he wouldn’t make it to the following spring.
Radiation and chemotherapy treatment helped Walsh beat the cancer.
He said: “Having cancer at a young age I didn’t really understand what that meant but as I got older I realised it was a very serious time in my life.”
Walsh and two friends were the victims of an early-morning shooting on St Patrick’s Day in 1990 when they were caught up in the aftermath of a bar fight between two other men in Dorchester.
He has struggled with alcoholism but hasn’t had a drink since 1995 and has helped others fight the disease.
Walsh added: “Overcoming alcoholism gives you strong inner strength and the ability to deal with issues and look at life a day at a time rather than worry about things on a larger scale.
“I take my life a day at a time and do the challenges in front of me for that particular day and my job for that day.
“As far as being a candidate it gave me a certain amount of drive. I didn’t look at the end of the campaign - I took a day at a time. That gave me a competitive edge over a lot of people in the race.”
The history behind “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”