Home > My Ancestors
> Irish > Timeline: 1950-present
- 1952: Thomas O'Neill is elected to the United States House of Representatives.
- 1953: Eugene O'Neill, Irish America's greatest playwright,
dies in Boston and is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery.
- 1959: John F. Collins is elected mayor of Boston. He builds
the "New Boston."
- 1960: John
Fitzgerald Kennedy is elected the 35th President
of the United States. Boston delivers 75% of its votes
- 1960: John McCormick, of South Boston is elected Speaker of
the House from 1960-1970.
- 1962: Edward Moore Kennedy is elected to his first term as
- 1963: President Kennedy visits his ancestral home in County
- 1968: Kevin H. White becomes mayor of Boston, a position he
keeps until 1983, when he retires from public office.
- 1970: 186,000 Bostonians claim Irish ancestry.
- 1975: A Boston chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (Irish
Musicians Association) is formed to promote traditional
Irish music and dance in New England.
- 1976: The American Ireland Fund is created in Boston to promote
education, reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland.
- 1977: Congressman Thomas "Tip" O'Neill is elected
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- 1979: October 1st, Pope John Paul II arrives in Boston to begin
his first papal tour of America. 1 million people
attend his mass on Boston Common. On October 20th,
President Carter dedicates The John Fitzgerald Kennedy
- 1980-1990: A new wave of illegal Irish settle in Boston, driven
here by high unemployment in Ireland..
- 1986-1989: Congressman Bruce Morrison (CT)and Brian Donnelly
(MA)sponsor two bills designed to legitimize the status
of illegal Irish, most of whom live in Massachusetts
and New York.
- 1986: Massachusetts becomes the first state to adopt the MacBride
Principles, a set of equal opportunity guidelines
for Northern Ireland. The Principles were named after
Nobel Peace Prize winner Sean MacBride, and were modeled
after the Sullivan Principles in South Africa. The
Irish Patoral Centre is founded in Dorchester.
- 1987: The Irish Immigration Reform Movement (IIRM) opens a
Boston chapter to deal with the growing problem of
undocumented Irish immigrants living without visas.
- 1990: There are 78,944 first generation Irish Americans in
Massachusetts. 26% of Massachusetts residents claim
at least some Irish ancestry, the highest percentage
of any in the United States.
- 1991: The University of Massachusetts convenes an international
symposium to discuss human rights in Northern Ireland
and South Africa. Boston's Irish Immigration Center
is founded to help Irish and other immigrants adapt
and prosper in the United States.
- 1992: Boston College creates an Irish Music Program on campus
to study and promote Irish traditional music and dance.
Music director Seamus Connolly, creates the annual
Gaelic Roots music festival. Martin O'Brien of Belfast
is awarded the Reebok Human Rights award in Boston
for his efforts to create a Bill of Rights in Northern
- 1993: Raymond L. Flynn is appointed as United States Ambassador
to the Vatican. As Mayor of Boston from 1984-93, Flynn
was the last of a sixty year unbroken line of Irish-
- 1994: Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein political party,
is permitted to visit the United States after being
banned for over a decade. He is welcomed by Boston's
Irish community, and gives a lecture at Harvard University.
- 1995: The first annual Cambridge St. Patrick's Day parade includes
6 gay groups. This comes after a parade in South Boston
banned gays from attending in a case which went all
the way to the Supreme Court.
- 1996: Ireland's President Mary Robinson visits the future site
of the Boston Irish Famine Memorial. She returns in
1997 to dedicate the Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial
on Cambridge Commons. Boston hosts the North American
Irish Dance Championships, attracting over 2,500 dancers.
- 1997: The Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial is the first United
States tribute to the 150th Anniversary of the Irish
- 1998: The Boston Irish Famine Memorial
is officially unveiled on June 28 in downtown Boston.
Over 7,000 people attend the ceremony. In October
Ireland's President Mary McAleese visits the memorial
during a visit to Boston.
- 1999: In June 1998 the Irish Technology Career Expo was held
at the Hynes Convention Center in an unprecedented
effort to lure Irish immigrants in Boston back to
Ireland to help fuel its booming economy.