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Around the Town

Newsnotes around & about Boston's Irish

By BIR Staff, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

He made many friends in his years here, doing poetry readings and participating as a valued member of the local community. He was a popular figure at many area universities, including Bridgewater State and Boston State, where he developed close and lasting friendships with students and faculty. Read more

The Month of St Patrick: Parades, concerts & more are everywhere!

By BIR Staff, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

Sat., March 8, 2014
Cape Cod – Yarmouth at 11a.m.
Route is about 2 miles long. Parade starts at Long Pond Drive and Route 28 in South Yarmouth. Continues west on Route 28, over the Parker’s River Bridge, ending at Route 28 and Higgins Crowell Road/Berry Ave. Read more

‘Oh, Yo-Yo Ma, the pipes, the pipes are calling…’

By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

One of the more memorable moments of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s inauguration ceremony at Boston College’s Conte Forum on Jan. 6 occurred during a musical interlude featuring Yo-Yo Ma, the 59-year-old Chinese American cellist who lives in Cambridge. Many in the audience anticipated that Ma might seek to tickle the mayor-elect’s Irish heartstrings, given that the official program book promised a “traditional Irish melody” as part of his medley, which also included George Crumb’s Toccata and Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3.

As he took the stage, more than a few boyos in the forum were elbowing each other with wisecracks of the “Yeah, Marty’s a huge Yo-Yo Ma fan” variety. But, when Ma eased into his interpretation of the mournful ballad “Danny Boy” — the smart talk ceased and the deep breaths began. Read more

This is the Marty Walsh we know

By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

On Jan. 6, the city and the region got its first extended glimpse of the political leader whom we’ve come to know, simply, as Marty. It was a good first impression and a reminder of why he won last fall: People want to like him.
They also want him to get better— to achieve more than even they thought he could. They still do. Like every one of us, he’s a work in progress. And that has been the case with him since Day One of his move into politics.
For folks from Dorchester, he is now the vessel of their own aspirations: the kid from the three-decker on Taft Street who has beaten cancer, a drive-by bullet blast, and “the disease” to grasp his city’s ultimate brass ring. Marty has become living, breathing proof that we can tame our own demons and even harness them for the purposes of a greater good— like ministering to an emerging generation of Bostonians whose futures are similarly imperiled by bullets and booze. Read more

IRISHMEN at the CORE-3 stalwarts pass away

By BIR Staff Reports, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

Dr. William T. O’Connell of Duxbury, a podiatrist who was known to many as Dr. Bill, led an active life well into his 80s. He traveled extensively, touring Russia and South America, among other places while making 21 trips to Ireland. He skied into his 70s, and, with his wife Rita, devoted considerable time and resources to a wide range of Irish cultural and historic organizations, giving special emphasis, much time, and frequent lectures to educate, entertain and raise funds for the Deer Island Famine Memorial.
Lenahan O’Connell of Jamaica Plain, who died on Jan. 5, celebrated his 100th birthday last June. While a handful of people achieve the centenarian milestone, not many do so having lived a life so large as Mr. O’Connell. From family and the law to the very history and politics of Boston from the 20th to the 21st centuries, this rock-ribbed Boston Irish Democrat, did it all, with a keen sense of justice, humor, hard work, and a commitment to people, whether his law clients or those in society who needed the most help.
Robert H. Quinn, a Savin Hill, Dorchester, native, recovered from a life and death bout with tuberculosis as a young man to became one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful political leaders of his generation. Mr. Quinn, 85, was a state representative from Ward 13 who became speaker of the Massachusetts House and, later, state attorney general. He was a pivotal figure in bringing the University of Massachusetts to its present home on Dorchester’s Columbia Point in the 1970s.
Read more

RUNNING FOR MARTIN -BAA Marathon team is raising funds to honor memory of Dorchester boy

By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, January 31, 2014

A tight-knit group of neighbors and family friends will form the nucleus of the inaugural Team MR8, a squad of 100-plus runners who will run in April’s Boston Marathon in memory of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old Dorchester boy who lost his life in last year’s terror bombing attack.
Each member of the team will raise thousands of dollars for the newly formed Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, whose mission is “to honor Martin’s message of ‘No more hurting people – peace’ by investing in education, athletics, and community.”
Among those hand-picked by the Richard family and their foundation are close friends and neighbors, including Lisa Hourihan Jackson, Jose Calderon, Mike McCarthy, and Harry Benzan, who coached both Martin and his younger sister Jane, who lost a limb in the attack. Read more

This is the Jack Shaughnessy I knew

By Arthur Murphy, special to the BIR, January 2, 2014

Jack Shaughnessy grew up in Quincy, graduated from BC High in wartime 1944, served in the Navy, and afterwards worked with his brother Al in building a very successful crane and rigging business in South Boston. That is a spare biographical sketch, and only a small part of the Jack Shaughnessy the city of Boston came to know. Read more

Story of the Year: A heart-breaking loss triggers a spirited response

By Bill Forry, special to the BIR, January 2, 2014

The year’s most indelible images, memories and emotions for the city — and certainly for Dorchester at-large— are connected to the April 15th terror attack on spectators and participants at the Boston Marathon. The bombings killed three and wounded hundreds more and the aftershocks of the two devices rippled across the nation and globe. But the epicenter of grief, in many respects, was here in our backyard, where the Richard family mourned the loss of their younger son, Martin, age 8, who was killed at the scene, while at once coping with grievous injuries to other family members, including Jane, age 7, who lost her leg. Read more

On the passing of an Irish ‘Prince of Players’

By Peter Stevens, special to the BIR, January 2, 2014

Peter O’Toole met his goal: “To be the event!”

There was always that voice. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to speak with the legendary actor Peter O’Toole, who passed away last month at the age of 81, and I daresay that no one who ever talked to him in person or on the phone could ever forget his voice. No matter whether he was delivering cinematic performances for the ages in such films as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Becket,” and “The Lion in Winter,” or rendering the only notable scenes in several forgettable movies, that magnificent voice, his intense blue eyes, and a physical presence that captured every conceivable emotion and action made him arguably the finest actor of the past half-century. Despite all that, despite the fact that he was nominated eight times for Academy Awards, he never won. It is an appalling indictment of Hollywood that he has been dubbed “Oscar’s biggest loser.” Read more

Boston Sports, 2013- For local teams, stunning in a rear-view look

By Clark Booth, special to the BIR, January 2, 2014

Clearing the decks soon to be draped in holly as the clock runs out on what’s been another banner year in sports – especially if you hail from New England!
The scorecard for 2013 is stunning! A spectacular championship in baseball. In hockey, a precious near-miss as tender as any Cup might be. A festival of world-class dramatics in football that has become routine in the Belichick/Brady era. And if in basketball we had to accept the end of an era, your team, given its history, need never apologize. Read more

SALUTING A SCHOLAR FOR A JOB WELL DONE; A fond adieu to Robert O’Neill, Director of Burns Library at BC

By Peter Stevens, BIR Staff, special to the BIR, December 2, 2013

For the last 26 years, Robert O’Neill has been the director of the John J. Burns Library at Boston College. Now, as he prepares to retire this month and head for the warmer clime of Arizona, he leaves a deep legacy. The library, under his and his staff’s tutelage, stands as one of the finest university research institutions anywhere. Its rich Irish collections have garnered worldwide acclaim, due in no small measure to the foresight of Robert O’Neill. Read more

John Boyle O’Reilly exhibit to open at BC on Tues., Nov. 12

By Ed Forry, October 31, 2013

The John J. Burns Library and The Center for Irish Programs at Boston College in collaboration with The John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland, The Charitable Irish Society, and The Eire Society of Boston will be opening an exhibit entitled “John Boyle O’Reilly, His Life and Work” on Tues., Nov. 12, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Burns Library. Opening remarks will be made by the Honorable Richard Culhane, Lord Mayor of Drogheda and President of the John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland. A reception will follow. Read more

ICCNE to host Mass. Memories Road Show on Sat., Nov. 16

By Ed Forry, October 31, 2013

“The Irish Immigrant Experience”
The effect on viewers was immediate…“Stop, I need to take a closer look!” The photo accompanying this article greeted visitors at a recent Irish festival. The 1939 study of Roxbury’s Emerald Isle Orchestra elicited many comments:
Older folks remembered the Irish dance halls in Dudley Square; some recognized band members in the photo; younger viewers picked out other details – the two girls who must have been sisters; and one twenty-something musician commented on the group’s slogan “For Music That Satisfies – Call Prospect 1046-J.” Read more

BIR cites five for Boston Irish Honors

By Ed Forry, October 31, 2013

The Boston Irish Reporter hosted its fourth annual Boston Irish Honors on Fri., Oct. 25, at the Seaport Hotel on the South Boston waterfront. The event, which marked the 23nd anniversary of the BIR, drew more than 300 persons to the mid-day luncheon. Read more

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