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Boston Irish Commentary

Speaking of bargains for tourists, Ireland is hard to beat right now

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, February 2, 2012

Joe Byrne, Tourism Ireland’s New York-based executive vice president for North America, is typical of the hard-working Irish men and women who are sent to the United States to represent their country. Enthusiastic, loyal, focused, and extremely bright, his friendly outgoing personality belies a tough, single-minded dedication to improving Ireland’s annual visitor count – in the North and in the South – from the United States and Canada. Read more

Cause & effect & all of us

By Ed Forry, February 2, 2012

That God is the uncaused cause has long been one of the principal arguments for a supernatural, all-powerful being. Some unexplainable, mysterious force must have begun the creative process, otherwise there would be nothing, or so the argument goes. Read more

One Man’s Hero: In the ‘Age of Tebow,’ a forgotten Boston Irishman stands out as the ‘Genuine Article’

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, January 3, 2012

What does this exhibit have to do with Tebow or the other celebrities whom so many folks deify? It reveals how they pale when set against bona-fide heroes, the type who stand for or against something with no fanfare and no desire for acclaim. Such a quiet hero was John Edward Kelly. Read more

Losing our balance: The Uncivil War

By Anonymous, January 3, 2012

As we observe the 150th-anniversary year of the start of the Civil War, we are again facing disunion and testing whether a nation, once the noble beacon of representative government, can survive.

The present-day unraveling of our democratic system of government is not territorial, nor is it based on states rights or slavery. Read more

Troubling signals all up the line; a painful year looms for Ireland

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, January 3, 2012

With draconian cuts in their standard of living, the potential collapse of the European Union, and the irrelevance of the Catholic Church in their lives, the people of Ireland are looking at a bleak 2012 as the new year dawns. The huge debts run up by swashbuckling real estate developers and crooked bank officials, which required massive borrowing from Europe, have placed a horrendous burden on the Irish government and the Irish people. Read more

Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Happy Christmas to you)

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, December 5, 2011

The celebration of Christmas in Ireland is a remarkable occasion. Not only is it the commemoration of the birth of the baby Jesus and, in fact, the beginning of the Catholic Church as we know it today, but for the Irish it is also a homecoming, a reunion of friends and family that is looked forward to with special anticipation throughout the year. Read more

Humans should define ‘reasonable’

By Anonymous, December 5, 2011

by James W. Dolan
Special to the BIR
The recent Boston Globe series on OUI cases illustrates the significant disparities that arise as judges, jurors, and everybody else grapple with the notion of what is “reasonable.”
In a criminal trial, the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. What may be a reasonable doubt for some, may not be for others. The most celebrated illustrations of that fact are the O.J. Simpson case and, more recently, the Casey Anthony verdict.
Despite widespread belief that both juries got it wrong, carefully screened jurors, presumably conscientious and sincere, listened to the evidence, were instructed by a judge on the meaning of reasonable doubt, and unanimously found both not guilty. Read more

Taking a look at the Whitey Sweepstakes

By BY PETER F. STEVENS, special to the BIR, December 5, 2011

Damon and Affleck ‘muscle’ their way onto the crowded
cinematic turf to bring Jimmy Bulger & Co. to the Big Screen

It’s getting crowded in Whitey Bulger biopic field. The news that local-boys-made-good-Hollywood-wise Matt Damon and Ben Affleck plan to bring Jimmy Bulger’s saga to the big screen should surprise no one around here. After all, they grew up in and around the city and first proved their grasp of the turf together in the film “Good Will Hunting.” A few years ago, Damon shone in Martin Scorcese’s “The Departed,” with Jack Nicholson’s ruthless Southie gang honcho based loosely on the Whitey persona. Affleck’s stellar direction of “Gone, Baby, Gone” and his recent turn in “The Town” further point to the near-inevitability that Damon and Affleck would jump into the Whitey “sweepstakes.” Read more

Harsh financial measures are succeeding in Ireland

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, November 14, 2011

European and American business leaders are praising Ireland's government for setting a courageous course to return the Irish economy to financial prosperity in the years ahead. A balanced mix of increased taxes and reduced spending has both European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) leaders pointing to Ireland as a superb example of fiscal prudence as the country fights to restore its economic health. Read more

‘We look around for an Irishman’ - Death penalty chronically tilted against those at society’s bottom

By Peter F. Stevens BIR Staff, special to the BIR, October 12, 2011

There are two irrefutable facts about the death penalty. If a mistake is made, it cannot be rectified; the ultimate punishment is disproportionately administered to the poor and minorities. No matter one’s view of capital punishment, those two truths stand. Read more

Best bet: one casino, for starters

By James W. Dolan, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, October 12, 2011

Although not opposed to gambling, I am disappointed that Massachusetts will soon be joining the casino cavalcade. It is unfortunate we feel compelled to turn to gambling to increase revenue and generate jobs.

I am proud of the commonwealth’s opposition to the death penalty, restrictions on gun ownership, and its efforts to promote universal health care and gay rights. Such measures reflect a generous spirit and caring for others that many other states ignore. Read more

Remembering a rare man

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, October 12, 2011

Sunday, Oct. 30, will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of one of Boston’s true heroes: Dr. Thomas S. Durant.

An extraordinary man in so many ways, Tom Durant brought happiness and comfort to thousands, even tens of thousands, during his lifetime – not only in Boston and Washington with the high and mighty but also around the world in refugee camps in Cambodia, Vietnam, Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, the Sudan, and many more. Read more

The fact is that US companies like doing business in Ireland

By Joe Leary, special to the BIR, August 31, 2011

By Joe Leary
Special to the BIR

At least one segment of the Irish economy is doing very well this year -- exports of goods and services are way up, largely due to American companies doing business in Ireland. Some of the largest American corporations in the world and many smaller ones have chosen Ireland as their European base of operations while employing over 100,000 Irish to run their businesses. Another 300,000 Irish are employed by Irish companies to supply and service the 500 American businesses who have located in Ireland. Read more

Here’s hoping the 2010’s Tea Party story ends the same way the 1850’s Know-Nothings era did

By Peter F. Stevens, Reporter Staff, special to the BIR, August 31, 2011

Millard FillmoreMillard FillmoreBy Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

The Boston Irish community of the 1850s would have recognized the ways and means of the Tea Party of today. Those immigrants from the “old sod” would have known exactly what the “I-want-my-country-back” crowd of 2011 was up to and would likely be part furious, part ashamed to learn that any of their descendants were imbibing the tea of Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Dick Armey, FreedomWorks, the Koch brothers, et al. (In a case of art imitating life, check out the old Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd comedy “Trading Places” for a look at the uber-rich, bigoted, social-experimenting, morally bankrupt “Duke” brothers played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy and you will that some “Koch-like” traits abound.) Read more

Ireland’s population surges to highest level in 150 years

By Joe Leary, Special to the BIR, special to the BIR, July 29, 2011

By Joe Leary
Special to the BIR

The population of Ireland before the famine was a little over 8 million people. Many thought this was an over-population that was at least partly responsible for the tragedy.

Now there are predictions that, despite the impact of the recession, an 8-million population number on the island of Ireland is within the foreseeable future. Read more