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Martin Walsh and John Connolly in Boston mayor debate. WCVB Channel 5 Boston
boston mayoral elections

Two Irish American men fight it out to become Boston’s next mayor

Two Irish American white Catholic left to centre progressive men are the front runners in the Boston mayoral election which takes place today.

BOSTON VOTERS WILL take to the polls today to vote for a new mayor – but either way, Boston will have its first Irish-American mayor in more than 20 years.

The top two candidates are Martin Walsh, whose parents are both from Connemara and John Connolly, whose Irish ancestry goes further back.

Links to Ireland

Boston has long been associated with having strong links to Ireland, and one could assume that Irish-Americans played a strong role in Boston politics, but there are now more African-Americans and Latinos in the greater Boston area than there are Irish-Americans.

Larry Donnelly, a law lecturer in NUI Galway and a native from Boston said he believes Martin Walsh will win the race.

Martin Walsh is the son of immigrants from Connemara, County Galway. His mother, Mary O’ Malley, from Rosmuc and John Walsh, from Carna both emigrated from Ireland in the 1950s and came to Boston. Having met at the dance, John and Mary Walsh married and settled in a home on Taft Street in St. Margaret’s Parish, where Martin and his brother Johnny grew up, and where his mother still lives.

Martin is a recovering alcoholic and has a much more down-to-earth upbringing to his counterpart Connolly, who is the son of the former Massachusetts Secretary of State and a judge. He also attended Harvard. His Irish ancestors date further back. Both are white Irish Catholic left to center progressive males.

Irish American

The race is very much being pitted the Irish American son of priveledge (Connolly) and the Irish-American son of the immigrants (Walsh). Either way, Donnelly said the Irish Americans are the minority majority and that it was of surprise to many that the top two candidates would be of Irish American backgrounds.

“I think Walsh’s life resonates more with the voters. He has been knocked down a couple of times in his life, suffering from alcohol addiction and surviving cancer as a young boy. I think people will relate to him more in times when people are still struggling in the recession, more so than they would with a man who is the son of Massachussets Secretary of State and a judge,” said Donnelly.

He said that both candidates were on the same side when it came to fighting for the Irish undocumented in America. “Walsh said he would do everything in his power to help the undocumented Irish – it’s very much a personal issue for him,” said Donnelly.

Whatever way the voters go, Boston will have an Irish American mayor come Wednesday.

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