The Irish Times has proclaimed a black woman the new star of Irish America.
“For the estimated 70 million worldwide who claim Irish heritage,” writes Simon Carswell in the Irish Times, “there couldn’t be a better ambassador for the changing face of the Irish diaspora than Linda Dorcena Forry.”
Sen. Forry, a black Haitian-American woman with an Irish husband, is the first non-male, non-white and non-resident of Boston’s Irish enclave “Southie,” to host the South Boston St Patrick’s Day breakfast.
The Massachusetts state senator made what was called “an unforgettable entrance” when she came onto the stage at the Boston Convention Center last Sunday, singing ‘If You’re Irish, Come Into The Parlour.’
“Do not adjust your television set,” Forry told the audience watching the three-hour television special at home last Sunday. “There is nothing wrong with the picture on your TV. That’s right. I’m a woman.”
The breakfast dates back to 1946, when Boston mayor James Michael Curley wanted a place to meet his friends before the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade.
The event is traditionally hosted by all elected South Boston representatives and the role of MC goes to the area’s sitting state senator. This year, those duties went to Forry, the first woman and the first black politician to hold the Dorchester-South Boston seat, where more than 70 percent of the population is white.
This year’s breakfast featured many high-profile speakers, including Boston mayor Marty Walsh, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Enda Kenny, the first Taoiseach to speak at the event. Many were eager to praise the ground-breaking host and her performance.
“Have a good look, everybody,” said State governor Deval Patrick, who is black. “This is what a Forry and a Patrick look like these days.”