Famous Boston Irish Americans

Of the nearly million Irishmen who came to the shores of America during the Famine years, tens of thousands of Irish immigrants settled in Boston.  In 1847 alone, the first year of the Great Famine, 37,000 Irish Catholics descended upon Boston.  The Irish immigrants who landed in Boston settled into the Boston waterfront along Batterymarch and Broad Streets, then in the North End section and in East Boston.

Today, it is hard to imagine Boston without the Irish.  Boston has become perhaps the most Irish American city of all, ultimately commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine by unveiling a $1 million memorial park right along the Freedom Trail.

Considering the great Irish history in Boston, it’s no surprise that many famous Irish Americans originated from Boston or spent many important years in the city.  The following is a list of famous Boston Irish Americans.

Also See:
Ben Affleck
Arthur "Butchy" Doe, Jr. | Boston mobster from Charlestown and son of mobster Arthur Doe, Sr

Arthur Kennedy | Stage and film actor best known for his performances on the New York Stage and his Western films

Ben Affleck | Film actor, screenwriter and director who won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting and is the brother of actor Casey Affleck

Bernard "Bernie" McLaughlin | Boston mobster from Charlestown who founded the McLaughlin Brothers

Casey Affleck | Oscar-nominated film actor and brother of actor Ben Affleck

Charles Olson | Second generation modernist poet who linked earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams with the New American poets

Christa McAuliffe | First teacher in space who died when the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986

Chris Evans | Actor best known for his roles in Not Another Teen Movie (2001), Fantastic Four (2007), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Conan O'Brien | Television host, comedian, writer, and producer best known for his TV show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Connie Mack 
Connie Mack | Professional baseball player and manager who won five World Series and holds the records for most wins and games managed

Dane Cook | Stand-up comedian and film actor whose comedy album, Retaliation, became the highest charting comedy album in 28 years and went platinum

Denis Leary | Actor, comedian, writer and director who co-created the television show Rescue Me

Dennis Lehane | Award-winning novelist who wrote A Drink Before the War, Gone Baby Gone, and the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award-winning film Another novel

Donnie Wahlberg | Singer, actor and film producer best known for co-founding the boy band New Kids on the Block

Ted Kennedy
Donald Killeen | Boston mobster who controlled bookmaking and other criminal activity in South Boston during the 1960s and 1970s

Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin | Former boxer and member of Boston's McLaughlin Brothers gang in Charlestown who survived many assassination attempts but was ultimately shot dead at a bus station in West Roxbury, Massachusetts

Edward “Ted” Kennedy | Brother of John F. and Robert Kennedy who served as United States Senator from Massachusetts for almost 47 years

Ellen Pompeo | Actress best known for playing the title role of Meredith Grey on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy

Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill | Playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature whose plays were among the first to introduce techniques of realism into American drama

Frank "Cadillac" Salemme | Boston mobster and former leader of the Patriarca crime family who became a government witness

Frank Wallace | Boston mobster and leader of the Gustin Gang during Prohibition who was ambushed and killed by rival gangsters

George V. Higgins | United States author, lawyer, and newspaper columnist best known for his bestselling crime novels

Howard T "Howie" Winter | Boston mobster who became the second leader of the Winter Hill Gang when Buddy McLean was killed during the Irish Mob Wars in 1966

James "Buddy" McLean | Boston mobster and original head of the Winter Hill Gang who was widely known as a tough street fighter

James "Spike" O'Toole | Boston mobster and associate of the Winter Hill Gang who was targeted for assassination when one of his associates had an affair with a rival's mistress

James J "Whitey" Bulger | Boston mobster and former leader of the Winter Hill Gang who masterminded a protection racket targeting drug kingpins and illegal gambling operations and was indicted for nineteen murders

James Michael Curley | Mayor of Boston who later became Governor of Massachusetts

Jimmy Flynn | Boston mobster and member of the Winter Hill Gang who became an FBI informant and appeared in many films shot in the New England area

Jimmy McHugh | One of the most prolific songwriters from the 1920s to the 1950s whose songs were recorded by some of the top singers of his era

John "Red" Shea | Boston mobster and member of the Winter Hill Gang who was indicted on cocaine trafficking charges in 1990 and served 12 years in prison

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy | 35th President of the United States and brother of Robert and Ted Kennedy

Jack Welch | Chemical engineer, business executive, and author who served as Chairman and CEO of General Electric

John Horne Burns | Author best known for his 1947 story-cycle The Gallery, which depicts life in Allied-occupied Naples, Italy

John Singleton Copley | America’s first great portraitist who immortalized such subjects as George Washington, Sam Adams and Paul Revere and was later honored with the naming of Boston’s Copley Square

Johnny Martorano | Boston hitman and enforcer for the Winter Hill Gang who admitted to 20 gang–related killings

Jonathan Tucker | Film and television actor best known for his roles in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostage, and the TV series The Black Donnellys

Ken Casey | Bass player and vocalist for the Boston-based punk rock band, Dropkick Murphys

Kevin "Two" Weeks | Boston mobster and associate of the Winter Hill Gang who became a government witness and helped convict FBI agent John Connolly and mobster Stephen Flemmi

Kevin McHale
Kevin McHale | Professional basketball player and head coach who was a three-time champion with the Boston Celtics

Mark Wahlberg | Actor, producer, and rapper best known for his rap band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch and his film riles in Boogie Nights (1997), The Departed (2006), and The Fighter (2010)

Matt Damon | Film actor and screenwriter best known for his roles in Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan, and The Bourne Identity and who won an Oscar for co-writing Good Will Hunting

Maura Tierney | Film and television actress best known for her roles on NewsRadio and ER

Mike Barnicle | Award-winning print and broadcast journalist and regular contributor to MSNBC's Morning Joe and Hardball with Chris Matthews

Anthony Michael Hall | Actor, film producer and director best known for his roles in Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Weird Science

Mike O'Malley | Actor and playwright best known for his roles in Parenthood, Glee, and Yes, Dear

Micky Ward
Micky “Irish” Ward | Junior welterweight professional champion boxer widely known as the protagonist in the 2010 feature film The Fighter

Mike McColgan | Former lead singer of the punk rock band, Dropkick Murphys

Nancy Kerrigan | Olympic ice skater who won a silver medal in the 1994 Olympics despite being clubbed in the knee by an attacker a month before the event

Neal McDonough | Film and television actor best known for his roles in Away Alone, Band of Brothers, Minority Report and the TV series Desperate Housewives

Patrick Nee | Boston mobster and associate of Whitey Bulger who served as a member of the Mullen Gang before writing the bestselling memoir, A Criminal and an Irishman; The Inside Story of the Boston Mob–IRA Connection

Robert Creeley | Poet and author of more than sixty books who is commonly associated with the Black Mountain poets and received the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

Robert Kelly | Stand-up comedian and frequent performer at the Comedy Cellar who often appears on The Opie and Anthony Radio Show and has appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and Premium Blend

Robert Fitzgerald | Poet, critic and translator whose best known work are translations of ancient Greek and Latin classics

Robert F. Kennedy | Attorney General of the United States and U.S. Senator from New York who was the brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy

Susan Howe | Poet, scholar, essayist and critic who was the recipient of the 2011 Bollingen Prize in American Poetry

Walter Brennan
Tom Brady | Super Bowl Champion quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League

Troy O'Leary | Left fielder for Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox from 1995-2001

Walter Brennan | Actor who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on three separate occasions, which is currently the record for most wins