20240528 Lucky Irish Boston

Boston Lucky

This past holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to spend a few relaxing days in Boston. The city is widely known for its deep-rooted history, impeccably preserved architecture, prominent churches and cathedrals, numerous colleges and universities, professional sports teams, and of course, the famous lobster rolls. Unbeknownst to me and my companions, the city has a large Irish heritage that dates back to the 19th century. 

For those of you who may not know, the Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile trail that extends through the historic streets of one of the largest cities in the northeast. Thousands of tourists and locals wander the trail every day, reading up on all the historical facts that impacted the revolution and this country’s independence. 

Somewhere along the trail, prominently displayed at the corner of School and Washington Streets, is the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. The sculptures commemorate the Great Famine (also known as The Great Hunger and Irish Potato Famine), a period of devastating starvation and disease in Ireland lasting from 1845 to 1852. Over 2 million people fled the country, with many of them perishing during the journey afloat. Those who survived found shelter in cities like Boston and New York. The memorial pays tribute to the city’s community being at the forefront of the campaign to persuade the US government to set sail and procure the impoverished Irish population with money, food, and supplies. Through Bostonians’ efforts to rally a relief committee, both Catholic and non-Catholic citizens procured $150,000 (equivalent to approximately $6.19 MM in today’s dollars) and 800 tons of food and clothing. By 1855, an additional 50,000 Irish people were living in Boston. 

With such a deep Irish heritage embedded in the city, it should not come as a surprise that some of the sports teams in this city reflect the Irish culture. The Boston Celtics, along with their mascot “Lucky the Leprechaun,” are one of the best examples. The well-known Celtics name also pays tribute to the Original Celtics, an American basketball team that played in the early 20th century. Coincidentally, the Celtics have just clinched their ticket to the NBA finals after a clean sweep 4-0 against the Indiana Pacers. They will now wait to face the winner between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks, and the first game of the final series is scheduled for the first Thursday in June.  

There’s no question that Boston is a city that offers culture, fun facts, and history knowledge for the price of a 2-hour duck tour or a nice stroll on a not-so-cold weekend afternoon. Whether you’re a history buff, a casual curious mind, or a beginner historian, Boston has the ability to captivate with a story that speaks for itself. As for me, I plan on taking a short history class next time I visit the city! 

Nirvanna Silva