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February 07 , 2009

Hidden History of the Boston Irish

Little-Known Stories from Ireland's "Next Parish Over"


When it comes to Irish America, certain names spring to mind—Kennedy, O’Neill and Curley testify to the proverbial “footsteps of the Gael” in Boston. However, few people know of Sister Mary Anthony O’Connell, whose medical prowess carried her from the convent to the Civil War battlefields, earning her the nickname “the Boston Irish Florence Nightingale,” or of Barney McGinniskin, Boston’s first Irish cop, who proudly roared at every roll call, “McGinniskin from the bogs of Ireland—present!” Along with acclaim or notoriety, many forgotten Irish Americans garnered numerous historical firsts. In Hidden History of the Boston Irish, Peter F. Stevens offers an entertaining and compelling portrait of the Irish immigrant saga and pays homage to the overlooked, yet significant, episodes of the Boston Irish experience.

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