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Charitable Irish SocietyThe Oldest Irish Society in the Americas
"With Good Will Doing Service"

             Founded 1737      


Charitable Irish Society
President's Reception

On Wednesday, February 5, 2019 the Charitable Irish Society, in conjunction with the Eire Society and Harvard University will hold a President's Reception at the Thompson Room at the Barker Center, Harvard University, 12 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.  We are proud to be honoring Henry Lee Shattuck (1879-1971), an iconic Bostonian and will be learning more from the City of Boston Archivist, Dr.  John J. McColgan, about the "rough and tumble" policies of the Bay State and Boston in the 20th century.  His talk is entitled "Repeal or Relief: Boston's Aid to Ireland at the Onset of the Famine."

We will also be hearing from Catherine B. McKenna, Chair Department of Celtic Languages and Literature, Dr. Catherine B. Shannon, as well as Henry Lee, Past President of the Charitable Irish Society about Henry Lee Shattuck's other contributions to the emerging Irish Society.  


Eighty years ago, on March 17, 1940, at the 203rd Anniversary Dinner of the Charitable Irish Society, it was announced that an anonymous gift of over $50,000 was donated in the name of the Society, to endow a chair for Celtic Studies at Harvard University.  Later, the name of the donor was revealed - longtime Society treasurer, Henry Lee Shattuck. 

Shattuck was an attorney, financier, a state legislator, and a Boston City Councilor. His selfless devotion to public service extended for over sixty years, most of it enmeshed in the world of politics. He was also treasurer of Harvard University from 1929 to 1938, and treasurer of the Society for twelve years. With a distinguished Brahmin pedigree, Shattuck was also a descendant of Patrick Tracy, Irish born Revolutionary - era shipbuilder and early founder of the Society.

While once visiting Ireland, and meeting with Irish President Douglas Hyde in Phoenix Park, Shattuck later wrote that “Hyde agreed with me that something more might be done to advantage… in bringing to the attention of the American public - Gaelic art, literature, and language." That was in 1938. Two years later, Shattuck decided to do something about it.

"Henry Shattuck’s gift was motivated by three things," recalled Henry Lee, Shattuck’s cousin and Past President of the Society, "His love of Ireland, his love of Harvard, and his love of the Charitable Irish Society.” He combined these three passions into one visionary gift that lives on today.

Shattuck’s generous donation (equivalent to over one million dollars in today’s value) firmly established Harvard’s renowned Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, the only Celtic department in the United States. Some eighty years later, graduates of Harvard now teach in Irish studies programs at universities throughout the country and beyond.

Shattuck’s philanthropy extended in many directions. In addition to other endowments to the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the School of Public Health, and the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government, there were countless acts of private assistance to students to further their education. In 1953 Shattuck was the recipient of the Gold Medal Award, presented annually by The È’ire Society of Boston to a person who exemplifies the best of Irish culture and ideals. It is presented to those who have made significant contributions in their field of expertise that benefit society.

For additional information, please click on the link below under Upcoming Events where you can also register for this event.  


Your generous gifts strengthen our ability to provide financial                support where it is most needed.


The Charitable Irish Society relies on the generosity of individuals like you as it continues to carry out its motto since its inception "with good will doing service."  In the beginning, the Society provided financial assistance to pay for the high cost of applications for naturalization and U.S. citizenship. Today, the Silver Key, the "outreach arm" of the Society, in conjunction with the Irish International Immigration Center and the Irish Pastoral Center, identifies individuals in our communities who have a dire financial need and need our support. The grants provided by the Silver Key gives recipients much needed hope for their future.

In order to make a difference in the lives of those in need, we rely on your support.  If you have already made a donation, we thank you.

Please click HERE to make your tax deductible donation now.   

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