UMass Lowell and Queens University Belfast are presenting a three-day conference to discuss Irish immigrants’ contributions to America, with emphasis on culture and politics in Massachusetts.

Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan will be among the honorable participants. The conference begins today (September 24), and programs will take place through Friday.

“Irish in Massachusetts: Historical Significance, Lasting Legacy” will delve into Irish-American influence and contributions to New England, and their efforts to settle the region.

Archaeologists, historians, lawmakers and artists will discuss reasons behind Irish immigration since the 1600s, and outline the achievements since – in politics, literature, sports, music and more.

“An Evening of Music and Song” on Thursday 5:15pm – 8pm will welcome Brian O’Donovan of WGBH-FM’s ‘Celtic Sojourn’ to discuss the importance of music in Irish culture, as well as a performance by five-piece band Traditional Brew.

A program titled “Irish Americans in Politics” will take place on Friday, September 26 from 11:15am – 12:30pm, with a roundtable discussion between Flynn and Kennedy Townsend, moderated by Meehan. Former Mayor Flynn has served as a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and Chancellor Meehan represented the Merrimack Valley in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1993 and 2007.

On the same day, between 9am and 11am, “The Irish in Lowell” program will take place, showcasing with artifacts unearthed in Lowell and Belfast how Irish immigrants helped build the city’s canals, which powered the textile mills that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution.

Artifacts unearthed during the archaeological digs in Lowell and Belfast also trace the evolution of Lowell’s ‘Irish Acre’ neighborhood. All of the artifacts and information presented at the conference will be the basis for a permanent Irish-American history exhibit in Lowell.

“Irish-Americans have had a dynamic influence on Massachusetts for centuries and today, census figures show 24 percent of the Commonwealth’s residents identify as being of Irish ancestry,” said Frank Talty, co-director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Irish Partnerships.

“Despite this, we don’t have a detailed historical resource dedicated to Irish immigrants who helped build not only the region’s infrastructure but its culture. This conference will fill that gap, knitting together Irish-Americans’ invaluable contributions and offering a definitive account of their experience here.”

The program sessions will take place at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. The Thursday evening concert will take place at the Old Court Irish Pub and Restaurant, 29-31 Central St., Lowell.

For more conference details, you can visit this website.

Irish immigration / Great Hunger memorial in Boston.Wikimedia Commons