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Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast

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Boston's St. Patrick's Day Breakfast is a major political event for Boston and Massachusetts, and sometimes national and international politics. The leader of Ireland's Sinn Fein Gerry Adams has been a frequent guest over the years, demonstrating the support of Boston's Irish-American political establishment for the re-unification of Ireland, but provoking controversy at home.[1]

Early History[edit]

The first mention of the Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast is from 1909, when Mayor George Hibbard hosted a Breakfast at the Hotel Bellevue at 11 a.m. on the day of the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. Mayor Hibbard is listed as the host, and the South Boston Gazette refers to it as the City’s Breakfast. The breakfast did not become an annual tradition at that time, with a breakfast being hosted on the morning of the parade several times in the 1910's by the Mayor of Boston.[2]

The breakfast became a regular event starting in 1949 when a luncheon was held at noon at Dorgan’s Old Harbor for state, city, and county officials. The Gazette wrote on March 17, 1949: “Following an established custom of years, many state, city, and county officials will attend a luncheon at noon at Dorgan’s Old Harbor House . . . This gathering is well worth attending.” In 1950 the Gazette against lists the event among the schedule of St. Patrick's Day event, calling it the “Mayor’s luncheon” at noon at the same location as 1949, Dorgan’s Old Harbor. A short article in same issue of the Gazette mentions “customary joshing” and a “brief entertainment program,” which identifies this luncheon as the predecessor of the modern Breakfast. In 1951 Mayor John Hynes and the Boston City Council had a luncheon at the South Boston Athletic Club, while state officials, with South Boston State Senator John Powers acting as host, held another at the '49 and '50 location, Dorgan’s Old Harbor House. The two luncheons continued throughout the 1950's, until austerity measures at the City of Boston caused the City's event to be cancelled in 1960. The state's event was then the only luncheon in '60 and '61. In 1962 Senator Powers paid for the luncheon personally for the first time. He hosted and paid for the event in '63 and '64, before resigning from the State Senate to serve as Clerk of the Supreme Court of Suffolk County.

William Bulger Era[edit]

Power's was succeeded in the State Senate and in hosting the event by Joseph Moakley who appears to have shared hosting duties with then South Boston State Representatives William Bulger and James Condon in '65. Bulger became South Boston's State Senator in 1970, succeeding Joseph Moakley, and hosted the breakfast for the remainder of his career in elected office. He shared duties in the first years as State Senator with other South Boston politicians, with Moakley along with State Representatives Ray Flynn and Michael Flaherty all listed as hosts in 1972. Bulger hosted the Breakfast until 1996, when he left the Senate.

Post-Bulger Era[edit]

Stephen Lynch, his successor, hosted the Breakfast in 1997. Lynch continued to host the Breakfast until his election to Congress, and his successor in the Senate, Jack Hart, began hosting in 2002. In early 2013 Hart resigned from the State Senate, and the special election to replace him was on-going when the breakfast was held.

Controversy in 2014[edit]

South Boston City Councilor Bill Linehan hosted the breakfast in 2013.[3] As the planning began for the 2014 breakfast, Linehan attempted to hang onto hosting duties, provoking a brief public fight with South Boston's recently elected State Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry. According to the Boston Globe: "But after Dorcena Forry, a Haitian-American from Dorchester, won the special election to fill Hart’s seat, Linehan argued that he should remain as host because Dorcena Forry was not from South Boston." Two days after the controversy came to light, Linehan reversed his position and said Dorcena Forry would host and that he would work with her to “present a quality event that makes us all proud.”[4] With the fight over hosting done, the breakfast in 2014 saw South Boston's new State Senator, Linda Dorcena-Forry became the first woman, the first person of color, and the first person not from South Boston to host the event.

South Boston Host returns[edit]

Dorcena-Forry resigned from the State Senate in early 2018, again creating a vacancy in the State Senate seat when the breakfast occured, and Congressman Stephen Lynch and Boston Councilor-at-Large and South Boston resident Michael Flaherty co-hosted the event.[5] Since 2019 South Boston State Senator Nick Collins has hosted the event.


  1. "Adams under fire for supporting events banning women and homosexuals". Irish Examiner. 2010-03-14. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  2. "About the Breakfast – St. Patrick's Day Breakfast Boston". Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  3. "Host Linehan on his first St. Patrick's Day Breakfast". NECN. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  4. Baker, Billy (February 13, 2014). "Linehan to skip St. Patrick's parade for Ireland trip - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  5. "Lynch, Flaherty to host St. Patrick's Day Breakfast | Dorchester Reporter". Retrieved 2023-01-11.

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