The Charitable Irish Society
The Oldest Irish Society in the Americas

The Irish Atlantic: A Story of Famine, Migration and Opportunity

  • 03/27/2017
  • 09/22/2017
  • Massachusetts Historical Society, 1135 Boylston Street, Boston

     The Charitable Irish Society’s history features in this exhibit. The exhibit chronology begins with the society’s founding in 1737 and ends with the 175th Anniversary Dinner of the Charitable Irish Society on March 18, 1912 that was attended by 800 people, including President William Howard Taft and Cardinal William O’Connell.

      A central theme of the exhibit is the aid that Bostonians sent to Ireland at the height of the Irish Famine Crisis in 1847.  Charitable Irish Society members were prominent in the fund raising efforts of Bishop Fitzpatrick’s Irish Relief Fund as well as of the New England Relief Committee which sent 800 tons of provisions on the USS Jamestown to Cork under the command of Captain Robert Bennet Forbes.     

     The exhibit also provides insights into the challenges that faced newly arrived Irish immigrants in the post-famine decades, and how these men and women built social, cultural and political institutions that broadened their opportunities and made them an influential segment of Boston’s society by 1912.

     The following programs will be of interest to Charitable Irish Society members.  You may register to attend by calling 617 646-0578 or on-line at

     Monday, March 27th, 5:30/6:00 pm, Reception/Talk:  The Mission of the Jamestown, A panel discussion with William M. Fowler, Northeastern University and Guest Curator, Catherine B. Shannon,  Westfield State University and Guest historian, Christine Kinealy, Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University.

     Tuesday, March 28th, 5:15 pm, Modern American Society and Culture Series Seminar:  Moving News, Affecting Relief: The Irish Famine’s Trans - Atlantic Circulations, a talk by Anelise H. Shrout, California State University, Fullerton and Comment by Kevin Kenny, Boston College.

     Wednesday, April 12th, 5:30/6:00 pm, Reception/Talk, The Rise and Fall of the American Party by Peter Drummey, MHS.  This talk will explore the Know-Nothing movement in Massachusetts.

     Tuesday, April 18th, 2:00 pm, Family Program: Make your Own Comic,

     The Jamestown Relief Mission to Ireland. This is a hands-on history program for children that will tell the stories of Robert Bennet Forbes’ efforts for Irish Famine Relief.

     Thursday, April 20th, 9:00 to 4:00/ Workshop. Open to K-12 educators, Boston to the Rescue: Robert B. Forbes and Irish Famine Relief.  Professional development points and graduate credit available. $25 per person fee. Register at 617-646-0557.

     This exhibit is co-sponsored by the MHS and the Forbes House Museum, and made possible by a generous grant from the Sullivan Family Foundation.

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