The Charitable Irish Society, founded in the town of Boston, A.D. 1737, was instituted for two purposes:
First: to cultivate a spirit of unity and harmony among all resident Irish and their descendants in the Massachusetts Colony and to advocate socially and morally the interests of the Irish people and their cultural heritage.
Second: to alleviate suffering, and to aid such of its members or other worthy recipients as by the vicissitudes of fortune might be deserving of its charity.
Working in collaboration with the Irish Immigration Center and the Irish Pastoral Centre, the Society organized seminars for the new Irish, providing vital information on employment, housing, education, finance, health, and the law. Since 1996, the Society has also played a major role in the "Catch the Spirit-Citizenship", a program that encourages Irish residents to become United States citizens. Workshops covering all aspects of the application process are offered by volunteers from the Society, the Irish Immigration Center, and the Irish Pastoral Centre at sites in Brighton, Quincy, Dorchester, and South Boston. Over 1,000 citizenship applications have been processed and submitted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service resulting in many applicants becoming United States citizens.
At Christmas, the Society collects toys and other items to be distributed to those in need. Again, the Society works through the Pastoral Centre and other organizations that are aware of individuals who can use this help.
It has been a tradition since the establishment of the Society in 1737 to host a St. Patrick's Day dinner, always on March 17, to celebrate the fellowship and good works of the Society. Speakers at the dinner have ranged from U.S. presidents to contemporary playwrights.
The Charitable Irish Society values its connections to Celtic culture and participates in activities connected to this end. The history of the Society is deeply rooted in the history of Boston and this country. The archives of the Society are housed in the Massachusetts Historical Society (1737-1920) and at the Burns Library on the Boston College campus (1920 - present).