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A Walsh vs a Connolly for Boston's new Mayor

By Gintautas Dumcius, special to the BIR, October 31, 2013

Before the gloves came off late in the Boston mayoral race – City Councillor At-Large John Connolly pointing to negative mailers from an outside group trashing his upbringing and state Rep. Marty Walsh accusing the Connolly campaign of phone calls testing negative messages about him – the candidates more often than not agreed with each other on the issues.
Voters will go to the polls November 5 to choose between the two, who have focused on their biographies: Walsh has been a state lawmaker and labor leader from Savin Hill for 16 years, while Connolly is an attorney and former teacher who has served on the City Council for six years and chaired the council’s Education Committee. If either one is elected, control of the top job in City Hall will return to an Irish-American for the first time in 20 years, after Mayor Thomas Menino became the first Italian-American to hold the office. Both candidates also identify themselves as progressive Democrats. Read more

Matter is settled; Dorcena Forry will MC St. Patrick’s Day breakfast

By Ed Forry, October 9, 2013

It was the socio-political equivalent of a late-summer thunderstorm: low-levels of thunder and lightning followed within hours by a fast-clearing sky.
The clouds began gathering on the edge of the horizon back in late May after state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Haitian American from Dorchester, defeated state rep. Nick Collins of South Boston in a special election held to fill a state Senate district seat that had been held by white, Irish-American male residents of South Boston going back generations. Each of them in succession had assumed as part of the job responsibility for organizing and presenting a breakfast in Southie every March as an adjunct to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
For a while, and just for some, the election left open to question the matter of who would be the organizer and emcee of the breakfast in March 2014. Would it be Boston City Councillor Bill Linehan, who had run the show this past March after state Sen. Jack Hart resigned his seat to join the private sector? Or would it be Sen. Dorcena Forry, for many the presumptive host, given the election results? Read more

In Dorchester, the Irish Heritage Festival returns on Sunday, Oct. 13

By Ed Forry, October 9, 2013

BY SEAN SMITH
After a one-year hiatus, the Irish Heritage Festival is set to return on Columbus Day weekend to Dorchester – in a new, albeit temporary, location. The free festival will take place on Sunday, October 13, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., with music and dance performances and other events at Florian Hall and the John McKeon Post AmVets 146. Perennial favorites Robbie Connell and Aoife Clancy highlight a roster of performers that represents a cross-section of Greater Boston’s diverse Irish music scene. Family and children’s activities – from rock-climbing to face-painting – as well as other attractions, such as a genealogy tent and visits from Irish wolfhounds and Irish setters, also are on the 2013 schedule. Read more

‘Echoes of Erin’ to strut stuff at Waltham High on Oct. 12

By Ed Forry, October 9, 2013

Current and past All-Ireland senior champion and prize-winning musicians will perform at Waltham High School when the annual Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann “Echoes of Erin” North America tour makes its stop in the Boston area on Oct. 12.
Throughout its more than four decades of existence, “Echoes of Erin” has showcased some of Ireland’s top traditional musicians, singers, and dancers, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in their own right, such as accordionists Joe Burke, Martin Donohoe and John Whelan, fiddler Oisin MacDiarmada, flutists June McCormack and Mike Rafferty, concertina player Padraig Rynne, and dance duo Donncha O’Muineachain and Celine Hession. Read more

Aer Lingus adding more US service in’14; daily Shannon trips for Boston

By Ed Forry, July 31, 2013

Aer Lingus has announced plans to expand round trip transatlantic service from Ireland to the US next year, including the addition of daily Boston flights to Shannon beginning on March 9, 2014. The airline announced the 2014 commencement of direct service from San Francisco and Toronto to Dublin, and an increase in frequency to Shannon from Boston and New York. Read more

Waterville and its Golf Links: Fetching presence on the Ring of Kerry

By Ed Forry, July 3, 2013

BY TOM MULVOY
MANAGING EDITOR
WATERVILLE, Ireland – “The wind is coming from the north and east, and that’s pretty unusual for us at this time of year,” said the fellow next to me on the putting green at the Waterville Golf Links at the southwest edge of the Ring of Kerry in the southwest of Ireland. “It usually comes the other way,” he added as we both stood firm against winds steady at about 25 miles an hour with gusts reaching into the 40-mph range.
Whatever direction the wind is blowing from, the 124-year-old links course at Waterville – par 72, 7,200 yards from the back, 6,600 from the middle tees – is a test of a golfer’s mettle. A perennial high-up resident on the listings of the world’s great courses, the links is located about a mile out toward Ballinskelligs Bay from its namesake town of some 600 residents. Its sand dunes, gorse, clutching grasses, cement-hard fairways, bunkers featuring sod faces, and quick, unforgiving greens make a run at par at every hole a sturdy challenge. Read more

John Boyle O’Reilly: A Boston Irishman for all seasons

By Anonymous, July 3, 2013

July marks a key moment for a man who had a huge impact on Boston and beyond
BY PETER F. STEVENS
BIR STAFF
The date July 9, 2013, marks the 147th anniversary of an event that eventually pushed a remarkable Irishman to Boston. On that summer day in 1866, 22-year-old John Boyle O’Reilly was court-martialed for treason against the British Crown and sentenced to be hanged. He would escape the noose, escape from one of the world’s most hellish prisons, and in Boston would become, said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “the most famous Irishman in America.” He was also a man whom few in present-day Boston, or the entire US for that matter, could match for personal integrity, political and social courage, and unwavering core principles. Read more

Taoiseach at BC ‘Let go, let fly, forget.
You’ve listened long enough’

By Ed Forry, June 3, 2013

Following are excerpts taken from the commencement address given by Mr. Enda Kenny TD, Prime Minister of Ireland, at Boston College on May 20:

As leader of the people of Ireland, Munitir na hEireann, I’m honored to speak here today and be admitted to the distinguished ranks of the alumni of Boston College. Your invitation signals the enduring kindness and affection between our peoples. It symbolizes the bond of ‘hope and history’ between two nations either side of the Atlantic.
In St Patrick’s Week, I travelled across America, leaving an icy New York, for a rain-soaked Seattle. I felt right at home. Not only because both cities shared Ireland’s propensity for sleet, but because everywhere I went, there and in between, the love and concern for Ireland, and the Irish people, were palpable. Read more

Eire Society will honor IIIC’s Sister Lena Deevy with Gold Medal

By Ed Forry, April 8, 2013

After 24 years as executive director of the organization she founded, Boston’s Irish International Immigrant Center, Sister Lena Deevy has stepped down. Her energetic and committed stewardship of the IIIC has been recognized by Ireland and America with national honors from both countries, and now it is time to honor the immigrants’ friend here at home. Read more

NewsNotes from Around Boston

By Ed Forry, April 8, 2013

US, Canada help boost Irish tourism to healthy numbers
More gains seen for 2013 as ‘Gathering’ takes hold

BIR Staff
More than one million people from the US and Canada – a 3 percent increase on the previous year – visited the island of Ireland in 2012 acclording to figures recently released from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office. Gioven those numbers, revenue to the Irish economy from North America increased year-to-year by a strong 9.3 percent, to 742 million euros. Read more

Charitable Irish to honor Labor Leader Sweeney

By Ed Forry, March 6, 2013

Charitable Irish to honor AFL-CIO’s John J. Sweeney at 276th anniversary dinner
The Charitable Irish Society of Boston will welcome John J. Sweeney, president emeritus of the AFL-CIO, as its honored guest and keynote speaker at the society’s 276th anniversary dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, Sun., March 17. Read more

Gavin Foundation helps those in recovery find a haven

By BIR News Room, March 1, 2013

By Jackie Gentile
Special to the BIR

It can be difficult for those recovering from alcohol or drug abuse to find a place that not only welcomes them, but also helps them navigate their return to their community and their families. The Gavin Foundation in South Boston does just that and has recently expanded to do even more. Read more

Sister Lena Deevy steps down as IIIC head; Millar succeed center’s founder

By BIR News Room, March 1, 2013

The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) announced last month that after 24 years as executive director of the center, Sister Lena Deevy LSA has decided to step down from her day-to-day responsibilities, and to take up the role of executive director emerita, effective April 1. Sister Lena will be succeeded by Ronnie Millar, who has served as deputy director for the past two years. Read more

North End’s St. Stephen Church celebrates sesquicentennial

By BIR News Room, October 4, 2012

By Patrick E. O’Connor

St. Stephen Church, circa 1960St. Stephen Church, circa 1960
The 150th anniversary of the establishment of St. Stephen Church on Hanover Street in the North End was remembered with a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday, September 23 with Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Hennessey presiding.

St. Stephen Church was originally the New North Congregational Church. Boston born Charles Bulfinch, the nation’s premier architect of the time, received the commission to design a church to replace a previous church at Hanover and Clark Streets in 1802. The church was completed in 1804 and by 1814, renamed the Second Unitarian Church.

During the Civil War era, the Unitarian congregation declined as the immigrant population of the North End swelled. A previously established St. John the Baptist Church on Moon Street had outgrown its use. Father John J. Williams, administrator at the time and later Archbishop of Boston, purchased the church on September 26, 1862 for $35,000. He dedicated the church to St. Stephen, the first Christian Martyr on December 2, 1862. Read more