Boston has long been blessed with the luck of the Irish. According to the US Census Bureau, 22.8 percent of Boston residents are of Irish decent a higher percentage than Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. In honor of St. Patricks Day, we explorethrough parts of The Irish Heritage Trail, a guide to landmarks of Irish-American artists and heroes from the 1700s to the present here in Massachusetts.
The Trail exists both to appreciate and preserve an integral component of American culture, heritage and history. Made up of three sections: 20 sites in downtown Boston and Back Bay, covering over three miles, and over 50 other landmarks in Boston neighborhoods, cities, and towns, the trail is a masterwork of the Boston Irish Tourism Association.
Though most can recognize the famous green of the Boston Celtics, lesser-known relics of The Emerald Isle are sprinkled throughout the Greater Boston area. From Boston City Hall to the Holy Cross Cathedral, we take a look at the work of Bostons greatest Irish-American artists and heroes from the 1700s to now.
First stop: Rose Kennedy Garden. The Garden was established by city officials in 1987 to honor Rose Kennedy for her contributions to this country, and to the inspiration she has given as to us all. Rose was a mother of 10 children, one of whom was President John F. Kennedy whose success is of course contributed to his Hanover Street roots. The Garden offers a mile-and-a-half of contemporary parks, blooming beautifully in the summer and providing a grassy, open space year-round.
The second stop on the trail is the Kevin White Statue in Faneuil Hall Plaza. A beloved Irish-American politician, Kevin White served as Bostons 45th mayor from 1968 to 1983. He is credited with reviving and expanding the waterfront, downtown, and financial districts of Boston, as well as being a champion for the city throughout those especially turbulent years. After his time serving the government, White taught a class on politics and the press at Boston University. You can now find him glistening bronze, frozen in a brisk walk, perhaps on his way to Quincy Hall which itself wouldnt exist today without him.
Jumping ahead, we bring you now to a familiar spot: Boston City Hall in Government Center. Though you can probably recognize the unique design of the building, you may not know its significance as symbol of hope in the sometimes tempestuous Irish-American struggle for equality and opportunity. The City Hall building became a beacon of light after the election of Bostons first Irish mayor, Hugh OBrien, in 1885. Though its gray exterior may seem unwelcoming at first glance, City Halls green hue brightens it up.
Up next is Bostons most prized public art: The Shaw Memorial in Beacon Hill. The memorial, created by Irish-American artist Augustus Saint Gaudens, depicts the states 54th Black Infantry Regiment which fought gallantly in the Civil War. Gaudens was born in 1848 in Dublin, and set sail for Boston with his family at just six months old. He settled in Boston after living in Paris and Rome, where he trained extensively in the arts. The Shaw Memorial took him nearly 14 years to complete and still remains a paramount icon of American ideals. Finally, we end in one of Bostons most iconic features: Fenway Park. Home of the Boston Red Sox and world-famous hot dogs, Fenway is the beating heart of Bostonian culture. The park was built by Charles Logue, an Irish immigrant who came from Co. Derry to Boston in 1881 at age 23. Regarded as one of Bostons most highly skilled carpenters, the ambitious young man was entrusted with this most prestigious task. Logue also built a number of Boston schools and churches, though Fenway surely was his most lasting mark on the cityand perhaps the whole world.
Though especially bright today, Bostons shamrock-green shines all year long.
For more information on the Irish Heritage Trail, visit http://www.irishheritagetrail.com/