The victory of Boston mayor elect Marty Walsh, the son of Connemara emigrants, has been hailed a “great day for Galway” by local representatives who predict a strengthening of ties between the two cities and a much anticipated visit to the west by April next year.
It was around 2.30am (local time) yesterday when news came in from across the Atlantic that state legislator and union leader Martin J Walsh had defeated city councillor John Connolly by 5,000 votes, capturing 52 per cent of the vote, and becoming Boston’s 48th mayor. The election campaign has been of particular interest to Connemara people in Boston and at home - Marty’s mother Mary, a native of Ros Cide in Rosmuc and his late father, John Walsh, a native of Callowfeenish in Carna, both emigrated to Boston in the 1950s before marrying and settling down in Dorchester.
After weeks of campaigning more than 141,000 people cast their ballots on Tuesday with Walsh emerging as the victor. Amid cheers from the crowd, many of them people from Connemara, the 46-year-old mayor elect once again spoke proudly of his Irish credentials and his hopes for the city that elected him.
Addressing supporters he said: “Let me tell you, my parents had big dreams for their kids... but I’m not sure they were this big. I am so grateful and so honoured for tonight’s result. For this kid from Taft Street in Dorchester, you’ve made Boston a place where dreams come true. Together, we’re going to make Boston a place where dreams come true for every child and every person, in every corner of this city. For this son of immigrants, you’ve made Boston a place of comebacks and second chances.”
Thanking his family he said: “My mother, my brother Johnny, and the love of my life Lorrie, and her daughter Lauren. And my father, who is with us here in spirit tonight. I also want to thank my family who travelled 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to be here tonight. I love you. And I thank you for your lifetime of love and support.”
The mayor elect then thanked the people of Boston, “everyone who voted in this election, who participated in this campaign for any candidate, who cared enough to get involved because you know it matters”.
“I can’t predict all the challenges Boston will face these next four years. Or all the opportunities we’ll be given. But I can promise you this, if we set our sights high, work together with our hearts, minds, and hands... then Boston, I promise you, the best is yet to come. Thank you” Mayor elect Walsh said before paying tribute to outgoing mayor Tom Menino who has “led Boston successfully into the 21st century”.
There was much praise yesterday for the new Boston mayor from local representatives here, with County Mayor Liam Carroll confirming that a letter has been sent congratulating the Bostonian on his election victory and that he hopes to welcome mayor elect Walsh to Galway this coming April.
City Mayor Pádraig Conneely, who also sent his congratulations, described the election victory as a “very good day for Galway” that a man, whose parents are from Connemara, “could be mayor of one of the premier cities in the US”, and said there would be significant knock-on benefits for the local economy here.
“There is a strong relationship between Boston and Galway. In May 2009, when I was over there, I met with Mayor Menino and we signed a friendship agreement. I can see this agreement being strengthened. There is a lot of Boston industry, and I can see economic and technology, as well as tourism, benefits for Galway. He [Walsh] has a huge interest in Galway, he often refers to it as his home. Boston is full of Irish people, particularly from Galway. This guy is Galway through and through. It is a truely fantastic occasion. I have no doubt he will visit and I would welcome it, and so would the people of Galway,” said Mayor Conneely, who confirmed that he will be formally writing to the mayor in the coming weeks to renew the friendship agreement.
The people of Galway, and certainly of Connemara, would indeed welcome a visit this coming April, in fact the confetti had barely hit the ground in Boston when preparations for the home-coming got under way. County councillor Seosamh Ó Cuaig yesterday confirmed that as soon as the results were announced people began planning the celebrations which includes areas for bonfires.
“It is a great honour, especially for the parishes of Carna and Rosmuc. It continues the great work done by his uncle, the union leader Pat Walsh, in Boston. I was extremely gratified to see how he managed to assemble a campaign team made up of not just people from Connemara, but other Irish people, and people from the black community, Latino, and other ethnic groups.
“Galway has a great link with Boston, this will strengthen those ties even more. He [Walsh] has kept a close eye on events here, he came out publicly in favour of a new road from Galway to his mother’s parish of Rosmuc, he is also a patron of the Emigration and Diaspora Centre in Carna,” said Cllr Ó Cuaig, who confirmed that more than 100 people from Connemara, many from Rosmuc, had travelled to Boston to give their support.
Marty Walsh will become the new mayor of Boston, taking over from outgoing mayor Menino on January 6. Commentators have noted how the many challenges facing the mayor elect include showing voters that he can be independent from the unions that heavily backed him. It was also noted how part of Walsh’s success during and up to the last hour before voting concluded was his everyman appeal. Walsh often spoke about his immigrant roots, his battle with childhood cancer and alcoholism, as well as his friendly personality which helped secure support not just from the Irish community but from other sectors as well.