Southern Star Ltd. logo
Premium Exclusives

Boston remembers Beara links on 300th emigration anniversary

September 14th, 2023 3:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

Boston remembers Beara links on 300th emigration anniversary Image
The five Sullivan brothers, whose ancestors come from Adrigole, all died on the same vessel during WWII. The film Saving Private Ryan was based on their story.

Share this article


A CELEBRATION to mark the 300th anniversary since the first emigrant left the Beara peninsula for New England will take place in Boston, USA between September 19th and 24th.  

In 1723, John Owen O’Sullivan from Beara emigrated to Berwick, Maine. His sons would make their mark on their new home, with all four fighting in the Revolutionary War. 

His son James would go on to become the Governor of Massachusetts, another son John, would become governor of New Hampshire.  In a coincidence, the current governor of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, can also trace her ancestors to the Beara peninsula. 

A week of festivities to mark the anniversary is being held in Boston by the Boston Beara Society and Beara Tourism, with support from both Cork and Kerry County Councils. The Boston Beara Society was established in 1995 to promote and celebrate the history, art and music of the peninsula and achievements of its people in their new home in the USA.

A number of events have been arranged in Boston, including receptions at the Massachusetts State House with the senator and dean of the Massachusetts Senate Marc R Pacheco and at Boston City Hall with city council president Ed Flynn.  

Kelly Loughren is the granddaughter of Albert Sullivan, one of the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives aboard the USS Juneau during World War 11.

and whose ancestors hailed from Adrigole in Beara. Their story, and their tragic deaths, following a Japanese submarine torpedo attack, has become an integral part of US naval history.

In fact, their deaths were so shocking that the US war department adopted ‘the sole survivor policy’ so the loss of so many siblings could never happen again.

The US Naval destroyer USS The Sullivans was named in their honour, and the 1944 movie The Fighting Sullivans was nominated for an Oscar for Best Story.

It’s also said that their story was the inspiration for the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan, starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, which won five Academy Awards.

Kelly will host an event on board the USS Constitution museum and ship in Boston harbour to remember the brothers.

Boston-based Mike Dwyer said they are delighted to be honouring the legacy of John Owen O’Sullivan, which had been neglected until now.

‘It is remarkable,’ he added, ‘how an area, like Beara, can influence history and what comes to mind is that geography is indeed the mother of history.’

‘Beara is such a unique place,’ he concluded. ‘The people who come here maintain their connections with home and, in that regard, they make sure to read The Southern Star.’

Mike also praised Beara Tourism boss, Jim O’Sullivan, for all of his hard work in co-ordinating the community groups and the councils, as well as liaising with State officials in Massachusetts.

 Both the Berwick Historical Society and the South Shore Heritage Trail will host talks and a guided tour of Irish heritage.

 For the full programme of events in Boston see

Tags used in this article

Share this article

Related content