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Boston Irish Commentary

Enshrining Patrick Cavanaugh

By Thomas O'Grady, special to the BIR, March 3, 2013

By Thomas O’Grady
Special to the BIR

Recently, but not for the first time, I paid a visit to a roadside shrine (as it were) that remembers one of the iconic figures of so-called Bohemian Dublin of the 1940s and ’50s. Actually, the “shrine”—commemorating poet Patrick Kavanagh—has two separate but related parts. The earlier part is a bench dedicated by his friends on St. Patrick’s Day of 1968, the year after his death, fulfilling a wish Kavanagh had made a decade earlier in a poem titled “Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin.” Read more

West Cork school gets a surprise

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, March 1, 2013

Every weekday, 24 Irish children, ages 5 to 12, attend a two-room school house in the remote West Cork countryside between the villages of Drinagh and Drimoleague. It is here, under the caring guidance of Principal Teresa Holland, that these children prepare themselves for Irish high school and entrance to the ferociously competitive Irish University system.

The Derryclough National School, however, has barely enough funds to keep operating. Located in the famous West Cork rolling farm country, the school has been seriously limited by constant government budget cutbacks. Read more

After we take our last at-bats, is that really the end of the game?

By Ed Forry, February 7, 2013


A close friend of mine died recently. He had been sick for a while so it did not come as a complete surprise. As we aged, we would often talk of the inevitability of death and the importance of being prepared for it.
We joked we were in life’s on-deck circle, waiting with others to be called to bat. From this at-bat nobody returns. You can only hope your turn in the batter’s box will be delayed. Read more

In 2012, the Irish American Partnership raised $692,730 to support its mission

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, February 7, 2013


Five Irish universities, ninety-four primary schools in the Republic, fifteen primary and secondary schools in Northern Ireland, and twelve community groups throughout Ireland received support from the Irish American Partnership in 2012 – a total of 126 schools and organizations benefitting from Irish America’s love of their heritage.
Revenue for 2012 – $692,730 – was up 15 percent over 2011 with 89 percent spent on the Partnership’s mission in Ireland. Read more

When black-and-white stories leave out the gray

By Peter F. Stevens, special to the BIR, January 7, 2013

The dead can’t defend themselves. While cliché, the sentence is a truism nonetheless as witness the recent release of FBI files on the late Kevin White offering some 500 pages of roughly composed, heavily redacted documents that delve into purported corruption during White’s four-term tenure (1968-1983) as Boston’s mayor. Read more

About the importance of circumstances

By James W. Dolan, special to the BIR, November 30, 2012

As I see it, homicide is always evil; the degree, however, depends upon the context – circumstances and intent. Thus, we determine if the killing of another in self defense or the execution of one convicted of murder is justifiable.

In war, the killing of an enemy is an extension of the self-defense doctrine even when both sides believe they are acting in self defense or to preserve freedom and protect the homeland. One combatant killing another when neither played any role in the causes of the conflict, and when both are innocent victims, is considered justifiable. Read more

Caring about Ireland at Christmas

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, November 30, 2012

The people of Ireland are struggling. Incomes are lower, taxes and fees are higher, unemployment is 14.8 percent, and tens of thousands of young people are once again leaving. After enjoying a booming economy for a brief time a few years ago, Ireland is now severely burdened with enormous debt caused by risk-taking speculators and greedy bankers.

To prevent a total collapse of the Irish economy, in November 2010, the government acted with the advice and backing of the world’s financial leadership and guaranteed all Irish bank debt. It is this debt that hangs over Ireland today. Read more

Let’s call political debate winners by tallying the vote at ringside

By James W. Dolan, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

Saturday Night Live should come up with a new formula that combines debating and prizefighting as a way to give viewers a definite winner and loser instead of the endless “spinning” that occurs under the traditional debate formula. Both sides now claim to be victorious.

This process would at least provide some finality to the annoying speculation that now surrounds political debates. Something like what follows would make future contests more amusing: Read more

As the wide world watches us, the Irish say, ‘Obama’s the one’

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012


The United States is the most powerful, resourceful nation in the world, so what goes on here is of intense interest to all other countries. especially Ireland.

In fact, there is so much attention paid to American elections in English-speaking Ireland that two organizations conducted polls of its citizens to determine who they would choose (if they could) between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The results are quite interesting. Read more

Curiouser & Curiouser: Mitt Romney as our Shanachie-in-Chief?

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, November 2, 2012

by Peter F. Stevens
Bear with me here, but I’m wondering if somewhere, somehow on the Romney family tree, an Irish branch stretches out. Why is that? Whether or not Mitt Romney wins the Oval Office this month, a question will remain. Who is Willard Mitt Romney? Boston Globe contributor Tom Keane chides the Obama camp for deriding Mitt as a fool. Keane is right – Mitt is no fool. Renee Loth, once the Globe’s editorial page editor, views Mitt as a coreless delegator who will allow running-mate Paul Ryan to shred the nation’s safety net. Read more

Assessing the prospects for an emerging Ireland: Irish American Partnership takes to road to check on opportunities and difficulties

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, October 4, 2012

Above, one of many sessions involving members of the Irish American Partnership and Irish officials that took place during the Partnership's mission to Ireland in August.Above, one of many sessions involving members of the Irish American Partnership and Irish officials that took place during the Partnership's mission to Ireland in August.
A group of 14 Irish American Partnership members, including several Bostonians, traveled to Ireland recently to learn for themselves about the difficulties and opportunities facing the Irish people in these difficult economic times. In an extraordinary tour, the visitors made 21 stops and talked with some 60 Irish leaders, North and South, over four and one half days. 
Sunny, ideal Irish weather was the order of the day throughout the trip; transportation was by a luxurious bus; and Irish hospitality was in evidence everywhere. Read more

For J. Barry Driscoll, insurance man, perseverance is a trump card in life

By Greg O’Brien, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

J. Barry DriscollJ. Barry Driscoll

Barry Driscoll has taken good notes on life for 82 years now and the sketchpad of his character lays out both a standard for success in a business set up to serve others and a lesson in what a gut will to persevere can make happen, the cornerstones of the insurance business he founded more than a half century ago at a rented desk in a downtown Boston high rise: the J. Barry Driscoll Insurance Agency.

The young man of 1960 took an industry known for its tedium and core densities, and made success in it personal. So personal, in fact, that today four of his children own and operate The Driscoll Agency, one of New England’s leading insurance firms, while still learning from a role model of a father who comes to work every day, yet still finds time for his second love—a round of golf. Read more

Report on a week at ‘Olcottage’

By By James W. Dolan, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

It was built on a bluff overlooking Vineyard Sound around 1900 by a wealthy mining executive and was one of the first structures on what at the time was a lonely stretch of beach between Woods Hole and Falmouth not far from Nobska Light. The history of the place rippled through all its quirky nooks and crannies. It spoke of the many families that had enjoyed times of fun, laughter, and the simple joy of just being together. Read more

A Catholic Northern Ireland?

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, August 31, 2012

The school population in Northern Ireland, through University level, has been heavily Catholic for many years, so it is only a matter of time before there will be a Catholic majority in the six counties.

Northern Ireland as a culturally Catholic area for the first time in almost 500 years will present unusually difficult political problems that will need to be handled carefully by all sides.

Academics and trend experts can argue about when this dramatic shift will become reality, but very few doubt that it will occur within the next five to ten years. Read more

Mitt’s ‘Irish connection’ is a taxing dilemma

By By Peter Stevens, special to the BIR, August 2, 2012

No, Mitt Romney is not claiming Irish heritage to pander for Irish-American votes here or elsewhere. He’s also not claiming publicly his investments in Ireland. No surprise there. After all, as Ann Romney bluntly told ABC’s Robin Roberts: “We’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life.” That would be fine – except that her husband happens to be running for president. What’s next from the Romneys? “Let them eat cake?” Read more