Skip to content

BIR History

OF ‘WETBACKS AND WILD BISON’

By Peter Stevens, special to the BIR, February 27, 2014

BY PETER F. STEVENS
BIR STAFF
Once, the Boston Irish knew what it was to be “wetbacks.” Of course, the epithets that hateful, narrow-minded Nativists and “Know Nothings” of the 1840s and 1850s employed to deride Irish immigrants were “Paddies, Bridgets, and Papists,” but in the lexicon of prejudice, those terms were, and are, interchangeable because of one ironclad trait – spiteful and willing ignorance.
In a recent edition of the Dallas Morning News, Tea Party US Senate wannabe Chris Mapp asserted that “ranchers should be allowed to shoot on sight anyone illegally crossing the border onto their land” and referred to such “anyones” as “wetbacks” while calling President Obama “a socialist son of a bitch.” Mapp added that use of the slur “wetback” is as “normal as breathing air in South Texas.” Once, that same brand of hate was as “normal as breathing air” in Massachusetts. That same fear and loathing of the “outsider,” the “newcomer,” plagued the Irish and fueled the St. Patrick’s Day Murders of 1845. Read more

IT WASN’T ALWAYS EASY BEING ‘GREEN’ IN BOSTON

By Anonymous, March 1, 2013

Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

On March 17, Boston will be awash in St. Patrick’s Day revelry. All nonsense such as green beer, green plastic derbies, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” badges, and faces reflecting various stages of inebriation and emblazoned with painted shamrocks or the Irish tricolor aside, the Saint’s High, Holy Holiday can be celebrated with unabashed abandon. It is worth remembering, however, that what we take for granted in 2013 was not ever so. For the Boston Irish, honoring – let alone celebrating – St. Patrick’s Day proved a long struggle. Read more

For many famine Irish, Deer Island proved their only glimpse of America

By BIR News Room, March 1, 2013

by Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

In 1847, a crisis unfolded nearly daily along Boston’s docks. Leaking, lurching vessels aptly dubbed “coffin ships” unloaded hordes of ragged Irish passengers who had fled the Great Famine, An Gorta Mor. Some 25,000 arrived in “Black ‘47,” and with thousands wracked by “ship fever,” likely a form of typhus, Boston officials so feared a citywide epidemic that they ordered a medical receiving room erected on Long Wharf. As overwhelmed physicians dispatched the gravely ill to hospitals, the city of Boston frantically made emergency preparations to set up Deer Island as “the place of quarantine for the Port of Boston.” Read more

The man from Cork brought the Babe to Boston

By Ed Forry, February 7, 2013

BY PETER F. STEVENS
BIR STAFF
“What’s Broken Can Be Fixed,” the full-page Red Sox ad blares. To launch that Fenway fix, the team’s brass has turned to an old friend with a Hibernian surname. Tito’s erstwhile pitching coach, John Farrell, pried loose from his managerial stint in Toronto, is hardly the first Sox manager with Irish roots. Read more

The story of the Irish Brigade and the Lost Drum

By Anonymous, November 30, 2012

By John Rattigan
Special to the BIR
Read more

Old Abe and Old Boston: A troubled relationship

By BIR News Room, November 30, 2012

By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff

In Boston’s Irish North End during the Civil War,
President Lincoln was not a popular figure for all

In the new film Lincoln, Daniel Day Lewis brings that towering figure into stunning life on every level. Throughout the maelstrom of the Civil War, the Boston Irish had a tenuous relationship when it came to President Abraham Lincoln. Read more

From his prison cell, Bobby Sands made the world take notice

By BIR News Room, October 4, 2012

by Stephen M. Pingel
Special to the BIR

Following is the eighth in a series of articles on individuals who had a substantial impact on civic life in Ireland in the 20th century.

Bobby Sands
1954-1981

Beginning in the late 1960s, many of the most dramatic events in Ireland over the following two decades or so took place in the North, most of them tied to The Troubles. Read more

Holocaust Survivor Has Wrenching story to tell his fellow Irish citizens

By Ed Forry, March 1, 2011

By Martin McGovern
Special to the BIR
The Emmy-award winning Irish filmmaker Gerry Gregg is the man who produced the first major documentary about the Holocaust made in Ireland. His 2009 production, Till the Tenth Generation, tells the story of Tomi Reichental, now an Irish citizen, who lost 35 members of his family to Adolf Hitler’s madness. Read more

Paul Doyle, of the DEA, Stood Firm: He Had to Tell His Story His way

By Ed Forry, January 7, 2011

By Matthew DeLuca
Special to the BIR

A former agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Paul Doyle knows that people are fascinated by undercover police work. But it wasn’t the dark allure of the criminal element that drove him to pen a memoir about his time busting up drug rings from the Combat Zone to San Francisco; he just wanted to tell his personal story, all of it, his way.
Now free of any connection to the world of violence and drugs, Doyle remains in fine shape – at 64 and a boxer all his life, he looks as though he could put up a decent defense of the New England Diamond Belt that he won in 1967. Read more

‘NO GREAT LOVE FOR HIM’- For Many Boston Irish, Humberto Medeiros Could Never Fill Cushing’s Shoes

By Ed Forry, October 20, 2010

By Peter F. Stevens
BIR Staff
(Third in a Series about the Catholic Church and Boston politics.)

In many ways, no one could replace Cardinal Richard J. Cushing of Boston. His death in November 1970 marked the end of an era in more ways than one for the Boston Archdiocese. Under Cushing and his predecessor, Cardinal William O’Connell, the Catholic Church had become a potent political, cultural, and religious force. The church ministered to a wide range of ethnicities, but the Church’s rise in the late 19th century and all of the 20th was inextricably intertwined with the contemporaneous hard-won rise of the Boston Irish. Read more

AdaptiveThemes