The Charitable Irish Society
The Oldest Irish Society in the Americas

About The Society

What is the Charitable Irish Society?

The Charitable Irish Society, started in 1737 in Boston by Irish immigrants who had successfully made that city their home, was formed to assist other newly arrived Irish immigrants in settling in and assimilating into a new city and new country. It is the oldest Irish society in both Americas and has had a rich history for over two and a half centuries.

How did the Charitable Irish Society help these immigrants?

The society offered financial aid, housing help, and employment opportunities.

How has the Society changed and what are its goals now?

The mission of the Charitable Irish Society has remained the same throughout its history although needs and services changed with the times. When the 1980s witnessed a resurgence of immigration of many young Irish men and women, the Charitable Irish Society responded with renewed commitment to its historic mission.

What is the Silver Key Award?

In recognition of the renewed commitment and with the expectation that immigration from Ireland will continue in the foreseeable future, the Society¹s board of directors voted in 1996 to institute the Silver Key Award to be conferred upon individuals whose dedication and persistence in helping new immigrants to meet their potential and to contribute to the rich fabric of American life has been outstanding.

What is the Silver Key Awards Reception?

The Silver Key Awards Reception is the main fundraising event the Society holds for its Silver Key Fund. The society honors the recipients of the award‹volunteers, hosts to new Irish, and staunch supporters of the Irish community, exemplifying the contributions of all the generations of the Irish Diaspora in the greater Boston area.

What is the purpose of the Silver Key Fund?

The monies raised for the Silver Key Fund go on an as-needed basis to individuals sponsored by the Silver Key Advisory Board. The Society, in its ability to respond quickly to emergency needs, fills a niche that many other charitable groups can not. The Charitable Irish Society is an entirely volunteer organization.

What are examples of some of the disbursements made by the Society?

  • Mary had to renew her application for citizenship and could not pay the small fee needed; the fund covered the application
  • Sean, Paul, and Michael each were all here on a Walsh visa and lost jobs from cutbacks after September 11; they were given loans to pay their rent until they can find other employment
  • Emily needed to have her apartment made handicapped-accessible; the Society covered those expenses
  • Sheila had broken her leg and could not make up the total insurance difference; the Society paid the difference.
  • John's mother in Ireland died and he couldn't afford the airfare to return for the funeral; it was covered by the Silver Key Fund
  • Andrew , a thirty-three year old Irish husband and father of three, died from cancer; the Society made a substantial donation to a fund to benefit his family's care.

How do I join the Charitable Irish Society?

Applications are available and any member of the Charitable Irish Society can act as a sponsor. If you need an application, please view our membership page.

Where are the Society archives located?
The Archives for the first 200 years (1737-1937) of the Society are located at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

The Archives from the later years, 1937 to the present are located at the Burns Library at Boston College.


Charitable Irish Society

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