I’m trying to figure out why there is so much dislike among some in Boston for the Irish. It’s not that we are some homogeneous group always sticking together and fighting off others. We may actually be the worst group for that. Didn’t that book about Gypo Nolan take place in Ireland?
I never had many talks with my grandfather, James Connolly, who immigrated from Ireland. I sometimes think it was because he was like the old lady who lived in the shoe. He had so many grandchildren he didn’t know what to do. Or, was it just that he was a taciturn man having come from a land of story tellers that required there be some listeners.
One day I recall suggesting to him that the Irish never got a break in Boston because of the Yankees. He said to me: “From what I could see the worst people to the Irish were the Irish.” The only other words I remember from him was when I visited him a short time before his death. He said, “I wish to live to see one more St. Patrick’s Day.” Unfortunately the good Lord called him home before that time.
I suppose some of the jealously of the Irish is understandable just for the reason my grandfather touched upon which was St. Patrick’s Day. That was a big holiday in Boston with Boston’s biggest parade. A public holiday in Suffolk County for many years promulgated under the guise of celebrating the withdrawal of the British forces from the city as the Revolutionary War was getting underway. The parade was located in South Boston and circled Dorchester Heights right dab in its middle of Southie. That was the only connection to George Washington. It was where he set up his cannons positioned in such a fashion that they could have easily destroyed the British fleet sitting like ducks in the harbor.
That was all pretense since there were no Evacuation Day celebrations. It was a pure Irish holiday which must have stuck in the craw of many. It ran smoothly for many years until a group of gays wanted entry into it; then litigation took place. In all the courts in the state the gay group prevailed. Upon appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court the justices voted 9 – 0 against the gay group. How could it be that so many Massachusetts judges were so wrong that not one Supreme Court justice supported them? (There was one Massachusetts judge who was the exception.)
Some suggested they were just pro-gay and wanted to aid them. I suggest that they were not so much pro-gay as anti-South Boston and the Irish that the parade represented. One is tempted to say that’s all ancient history now. The last I heard the grand marshal of the parade is gay which is all to the good.
But it still celebrates St. Patrick. Perhaps it won’t for long. Someone may file suit to say having a parade named after a saint injures their feelings. Think that’s far fetched. Do your remember the Vermont judge who agreed the Vermont DMV was right when it refused to let a person have a license plate that read “Irish” because it was considered offensive?
The gay phobia is gone. The Irish one strongly continues. I suppose what most upsets those possessing those feelings is that the devil-may-care Irish are little concerned about their attitude. That then heightens their efforts to libel the Irish race in ways they’d never dare write or speak about any other race.
Unfortunately among those who have a dislike for the Irish are other Irish, the lace curtain type seeking to blend into the suburbs like Wellesley who frown upon the others. Former FBI agent Fitzpatrick exemplified this when he wrote something to the effect that he may be Irish but not Boston Irish. Of course the knock on the Boston Irish may come because one not familiar with the city would think the only gangsters in Boston were Irish.
Fitzpatrick called Bulger, “the titular head of the Irish OC gang.” The original gang, Winter Hill had two heads, neither one was Irish. Black Mass book talked about the Devil’s deal between the FBI and the “Irish Mob.” At the time the deal was made the Winter Hill Gang, of which Whitey, an Irishman, was a member was not Irish but led by an Italian and German. When the leadership fell into Whitey’s hand, the real power behind the gang was Steven Flemmi. He was the guy everyone feared, not Whitey, according to a bookie, Jimmy Katz, who testified at Whitey’s trial. No one called it the Italian gang. Even the murderous time in the 1960s is blamed upon the Irish when the McLaughlin/McLean feud only brought about one-quarter of the murders.
Making all the gangs Irish was also a way to make all the Irish politicians gangsters. That fit in perfect with the authors of Black Mass and other disgruntled types like Dershowitz whose intent was to go after Whitey’s brother Billy. The truth is that it wasn’t the Irish who were the worst gangsters in Boston or who died the most in the gang wars. But you’d never know that reading the Boston media or books about Whitey.