By Robert Somerville
An integral part of the mission of the Irish Pastoral Centre has been to maintain links with Ireland, and the island’s rich culture, traditions and history. Many Irish people who have immigrated to the United States seek an attachment to something from ‘home’ to help ease the transition. The need for this link or attachment rarely fades, however, and this contributes to the strength and presence of Irish culture in the United States, particularly here in Boston.
The Irish Pastoral Centre has always strived to encourage this link with Ireland and its culture through our work by acknowledging the past and our homeland’s history, maintaining the presence of Irish tradition and culture ‘today’, and preserving the heritage and culture for future generations - the sons and daughters of Irish immigrants all over the world.
In 1995, to mark the 150th anniversary of Ireland’s Potato Famine, the IPC hosted an event of remembrance for those that lost their lives and those who were forced to leave their beloved homeland. This acknowledgement of a difficult part of Ireland’s history was of particular importance to Irish immigrants in America, of numerous generations, as well over one-million Irish had settled on the ‘shores of Amerikay’ in the years post-famine. The event was attended by over 500 members of the Irish community, and included a mass celebrated by the Bishop of Tuam, the Most Reverend Michael Neary.
An annual celebration of the Feast of St. Brigid’s carried through the 90s and 00s, wherein members of the Irish community would come together to commemorate one of the most important dates in the religious calendar of Ireland. The celebration would include a mass, followed by food and live traditional music. At present, throughout the year, the IPC links with the Irish Cultural Centre, another organization preserving the presence of Irish culture, to host masses in line with the traditional Celtic calendar, including the Feast of St. Brigid.
One off events, such as historical presentations around the 1916 Rising celebrations last year or gatherings for important sporting events, like Italia ’90, play an important role in preserving the link with home, and what is happening there day-to-day. Our upcoming family fun day will acknowledge Irish culture through spraoi agus sport, and the participating Irish families consistently represent the areas they have attachments to through their county colors – a point of contention due to the upcoming hurling and football finals!
St. Patrick’s Day, the central fixture of the Irish calendar all over the world, and the palaver that goes with it is often given the cold shoulder by many Irish people. Our culture and heritage is too great to be acknowledged on a single day, and it is much greater than drinking green beer or eating corned beef and cabbage! This heritage is found in the spirit of Irish people every day; in our conversation and wit, our ability to laugh and cry, through our hospitality and kindness. This is the culture and ‘Irishness’ that the IPC strives to maintain and promote through our work, to be a piece of Ireland here in Boston so that people can keep in touch with the land and culture they love so well.
Irish Pastoral Centre
15 Rita Road
Dorchester, MA 02124
Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
General Email: Info@ipcboston.org