The Irish Ancestral Research Association

2014 TIARA Past Meetings

Friday January 10, 2014

"Photos! Memories! Data!: the "Irish Immigrant Experience" Road Show in Context"

by Joanne Riley

Archivist Joanne Riley of UMass Boston spoke about how family stories can generate fascinating data for researchers, while seemingly dry data can reveal deeply personal stories. The talk referred to the "Irish Immigrant Experience" Road Show in the context of other story, photo and data-based archives including the Irish 1901/11 censuses, the Ireland Prison Registers 1790 - 1924, Tewksbury Almshouse database, the Irish Folklore Commission's "Schools' Folklore Scheme", and of course the Mass. Catholic Order of Foresters records. Examples and search tips for these sources were shared.

See Irish Immigrant Photos for photos contributed by TIARA members. See Mass Memories for more information about other Mass. Memories events.

Friday February 14, 2014

"Wonders in the Worker Files"

by Susan Steele

TIARA's Susan Steele presented "Wonders in the Worker Files". The lecture demonstrated how an ancestor’s occupation can reveal much more than work skills. Industry specific resources were shown to reveal occupational skills, birthplace, kinship, social and religious group membership. Lives of Irish workers in the Sandwich, MA glass industry and in the leather tanneries of Peabody, MA. were examined using material from industry museum files, local historical societies, archives, fraternal insurance records and other more familiar sources.

Saturday March 8, 2014

"Irish Genealogy Research on"

by Marie Daly

NEHGS Senior Genealogist and TIARA founder Marie Daly presented 'Irish Genealogy Research on'. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has microfilmed millions of American and Irish records, and has now digitized them, making them freely accessible to worldwide researchers. Among these collections are vital records, census substitutes, probate records, taxation lists, and even prison registers. Marie presented a number of techniques for using both searchable and browsable data on, as well as accessing valuable Irish information on microfilm.

"John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero"

by Christopher Klein

Author Christopher Klein introduced us to 'John L. Sullivan, America's First Sports Hero'. Born in Boston’s South End to Irish immigrant parents, John Lawrence Sullivan (1858-1918) was the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight boxing champions. He was the first American athlete to earn over one million dollars, the first American sports “superstar,” and a powerful symbol of Irish-American ascendancy during the Gilded Age. When Sullivan, known as the “Boston Strong Boy,” captured the heavyweight title in 1882, no Bostonians celebrated more than the Irish, who had felt blistered by Brahmin scorn since their arrival. That legendary spirit of the fighting Irish that was made flesh in Sullivan transformed him into a hero for hundreds of thousands of sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle who had felt emasculated in the wake of the Great Hunger, powerless under the thumb of the British, and slighted in their new homeland. Sullivan’s strength and self-belief were elixirs for a people who had suffered from malignant shame. Christopher Klein, the author of the new biography Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero, will share the tale of the hard-hitting and hard-drinking boxing champion against the backdrop of Irish America emerging during the Gilded Age.

Saturday April 12, 2014

"Howard Johnson"

by Anthony Sammarco

Noted historian and author Anthony Sammarco presented a fascinating account of 'Howard Johnson' and the creation of the legendary Howard Johnson restaurant and hotel business. Howard Johnson created an orange-roofed empire of ice cream stands and restaurants that stretched from Maine to Florida and all the way to the West Coast. Popularly known as the "Father of the Franchise Industry," Johnson delivered the legendary 28 flavors of ice cream, good food and prices that brought appreciative customers back for more.

Friday May 9, 2014

"Hands across the Sea: Links in the Family Chain of Irish Emigration"

by Michael Dwyer

Long-time TIARA member and genealogical writer Michael Dwyer presented "Hands across the Sea: Links in the Family Chain of Irish Emigration". Using the examples of his father’s Irish-born grandparents and their extended kinship network, Michael F. Dwyer illustrated how his Irish ancestors migrated to New England in the 1880s to join other family members who first came in aftermath of the Famine three decades before them. In turn, these new-arrivals continued to assist and sponsor other family members from Ireland to join them. All told, links in this chain of migration unfolded into a family saga that connects several generations over the course a century.

Friday June 13, 2014


by author Matthew Jude Barker

Author Matthew Jude Barker presented an account of the history of the Portland, Maine Irish and a summation of his new book, "THE IRISH OF PORTLAND, MAINE, A HISTORY OF FOREST CITY HIBERNIANS".

Friday September, 2014

"Welcome to the Graveyard ~ a Tour of Cemetery Art, History & Symbolism"

by Brenda Sullivan of The Gravestone Girls

Brenda Sullivan of The Gravestone Girls presented "Welcome to the Graveyard ~ a Tour of Cemetery Art, History & Symbolism ".   This one hour Powerpoint presentation started with the gravestones and landscapes of the Colonial period in the late 1600 and 1700s.    Then the lecture "traveled on" to illustrate changes of the rural cemetery movement of the 19th century and continued to examine the 20 and 21st centuries to describe what is happening in modern day cemetery spaces.    For the focus of the TIARA group, in addition to covering the New England gravestone experience, Brenda highlighted interesting Irish gravestones The Gravestone Girls encountered in their travels.

If you are interested in the Graveyard Girls' lecture handout, please click here.

Saturday October 18, 2014

"Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters: Weavers, Domestics, Machine Operators, Seamstresses"

by TIARA members Susan Steele and Virginia Wright

TIARA members Susan Steele and Virginia Wright presented "Wives, Daughters, Mothers, Sisters: Weavers, Domestics, Machine Operators, Seamstresses".    Susan and Virginia examined the lives of women in the workplace - from domestic service to military service, from mills to medical practices.   Fraternal insurance records, local history files and other industry specific sources were examined as sources of information about wages, working conditions, barriers and opportunities for our female ancestors.

Friday December 12, 2014

"Beyond Reconciliation: Memory, Truth and the Northern Irish Troubles"

by Margo Shea, Historian from Salem State College

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