Summer may be coming to an end, but its never too late to plan the perfect getaway. If you are interested in stepping back in time and exploring Irish history, but a trip to the Emerald Isle seems too monumental, there are plenty of options here in the U.S. that allow you to dive deep into Irish culture in as little as a weekend. Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail is the perfect dose of history and culture in a vibrant and extremely accessible city.
Boston is easily considered one of the most Irish cities in America, including surrounding suburbs where almost half of the population is of Irish descent. The Irish Heritage Trail is a unique celebration of all things Irish in the Bay State. It consists of historical landmarks and tributes to great Irish-Americans dating back to the 1700s, when the city was just finding it place as the birthplace of the American Revolution. One such place is the Boston Massacre Memorial, which recognizes the five martyrs of the 1770 event (one of whom was an Irishman). That man, Patrick Carr, is buried in the Old Granary Burying Ground, another landmark on the trail.
The Trail spreads out over 3 miles in downtown Boston and Back Bay with 20 fascinating sites, and another 50 landmarks spread throughout the surrounding area and state. One of the most famous memorials on the trail is the Boston Irish Famine Memorial, located on South Street and Washington Street, which pays tribute to the 100,000 refugees that fled Ireland between 1845 and 1849 during the potato famine. The memorial paints the story of the famine while acknowledging the event that led to the high influx of immigrants that ultimately made Boston the heavily Irish city it is today.
Other great places to visit along the Heritage Trail include the Massachusetts State House, where numerous Irish relics are displayed, and Boston’s City Hall, where Irish-Americans took the mayor’s seat for 85 out of 100 years in the 20th century. The trail also includes many detailed statues representing great Irish-Americans, such as John Boyle O’Reilly and the portrait artist John S. Copley.
The Trail is promoted by the Boston Irish Tourism Association, which seeks to connect visitors with the many resources, festivals and events that highlight Massachusetts’s strong Irish culture and history. They also provide assistance and tips for tracking down Irish ancestors who may have come through Boston as well, making any trip to Massachusetts both informational and personally exciting.
Boston is an incredible city to visit any time of year, and with the immense Irish influence, practically every site lends itself to being part of Irish culture. Even the beloved Fenway Park is a standing tribute to Irish roots- it was built by Charles E. Logue, an Irish immigrant who came over to Boston in 1881.
Have you ever visited Boston and the Irish Heritage Trail? What are some other can’t miss sites for others to check out?