Irish Immigrant Experience Mass. Memories Road Show images and stories now available

'Taken outside family home in County Kerry, Ireland. Pictured, from left to right: Moriarty cousins (children in rear), (front left) my uncle James Shea, (front right) my grandmother Mary Shea.' 1938. Contributor: Joan Walsh.

‘Taken outside family home in County Kerry, Ireland. Pictured, from left to right: Moriarty cousins (children in rear), (front left) my uncle James Shea, (front right) my grandmother Mary Shea.’ 1938. Contributor: Joan Walsh.

The images and stories gathered at the Irish Immigrant Experience Mass. Memories Road Show on November 16, 2013 are now available online. Held at the Irish Cultural Centre of New England (ICCNE) in Canton, Mass., the event was organized and sponsored by the ICCNE in conjunction with The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA), The Eire Society of Boston, and the Consulate General of Ireland.

Two dozen volunteers from these organizations worked together with a team of UMass Boston staff members and graduate students as well as “Roadies” from past Mass. Memories Road Shows to welcome individuals with connections to Ireland and Irish American heritage.

'We were waiting in Cobh to board the boat to America--we went into N.Y. port. Pictured, from left to right, back to front: my dad Patrick Heeney, myself Frances Heeney, my mother Anna Heeney and Mary Heeney.' 1953. Contributor: Fran Heeney.

‘We were waiting in Cobh to board the boat to America–we went into N.Y. port. Pictured, from left to right, back to front: my dad Patrick Heeney, myself Frances Heeney, my mother Anna Heeney and Mary Heeney.’ 1953. Contributor: Fran Heeney.

About 100 individuals shared almost 250 photographs of family members who immigrated from Ireland to the United States as long ago as the mid-19th century and as recently as the late-20th century. Several contributors brought images of ancestors who were born in Ireland, recording carefully researched stories of how their relatives settled, found work, and formed communities in Massachusetts.

'This is a picture of my father's mother, sister and brothers after they were finally together again in America. My father was approx. 29 years old. Most families had a similar photo taken after arriving in America. This picture always brings back memories of this wonderful group of people. Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Mary Kathleen Sheehan, Cornelius Sheehan, Jerimah Sheehan, my father John Sheehan, my grandmother Nora Sheehan and William Sheehan.' 1926. Contributor: Claire McWade.

‘This is a picture of my father’s mother, sister and brothers after they were finally together again in America. My father was approx. 29 years old. Most families had a similar photo taken after arriving in America. This picture always brings back memories of this wonderful group of people. Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Mary Kathleen Sheehan, Cornelius Sheehan, Jerimah Sheehan, my father John Sheehan, my grandmother Nora Sheehan and William Sheehan.’ 1926. Contributor: Claire McWade.

Studio portraits of Irish American families in Boston neighborhoods and surrounding towns figure prominently in this collection. Images of first communions, weddings, and family reunions are among the types of special occasions preserved. Many photographs and stories document the service of Irish Americans in the U.S. military during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and, more recently, in Iraq.

Browse the Irish Immigrant Experience Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide digital history project that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 8,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.  

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.