Despite all his bravura and political showmanship, his coarse humour,* a great fixer, a downright trickster and grafter, yet with a genuine kindness that endeared him to vast swathes of Boston voters, James Michael Curley’s personal life was unusually tragic. Following the death of his first wife ‘ Mae’ (nee Herlihy), he remarried a widow, Gertrude Dennis with two sons. This was on the last day of his term as Governor of Massachusetts, January 7 1937, “ to give her at least one day as first lady of the Commonwealth.” Between his two wives he had nine children; but incredibly seven of them predeceased him.
Twin sons, John and Joseph, died in infancy. His 14 years-old daughter Dorothea was her father’s ‘special friend.’ By all accounts she was a lovely girl, who adored her father. After school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart, she would rush to where her father was, and wait for him, either outside in the mayoral car, or in his busy office. She would sit at the end of his desk and do her homework. Out of the blue she contacted double lobar pneumonia on top of what the papers called ‘ a heart infection of long standing.’
James Michael Curley - four times mayor of Boston, twice elected to the House of Representatives, one term as Governor of Massachusetts, and two terms in jail, was the son of County Galway parents who emigrated as children to the US in the 1860s. The stories told about Curley are proverbially legion. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter rarely let an Irish politician go without asking if they had any stories about James Michael Curley. (The one president who shunned anything to do with Curley, was president John F Kennedy. But more about that in a moment).
Through chicanery, charm, bullying, and barroom brawls, with unashamed bribery and corruption, laced with brilliant and passionate oratory in a fine clear voice, James Michael Curley brought Tammany Hall politics to an art form. In the early decades of the 20th century, he mobilised his Irish Catholic constituents by doing what the best machine bosses do well: He gave them all municipal jobs, good, fat municipal contracts, and created a network of favours, which he called in on election day.
Tourism in Ireland is changing. Yes, there will always be a market for the Book of Kells, The Ring of Kerry, the Aran Islands, and Paddy Reilly’s Fields; but we have seen this year how the call for The Gathering has worked a treat. Surely Galway has never had a busier summer? To achieve above average visitor numbers you clearly must offer more than the chocolate box Ireland.
Many potential visitors are looking for something that meets their particular interest, with a unique Irish twist. These can include chasing up lost relatives, or golf on one of our scenic courses; walks through the mountains, wild horse riding, tours of gardens, prehistoric monuments, or something that I had never heard of before...knitting.