In the fall of 2019, the Irish Cultural Center put out a call for photos and biographies of Irish-born veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, to be displayed in a future photographic exhibit. The initial plan was to install this exhibit at the ICC in the spring of 2020. However, because of the public gathering restrictions during the pandemic, we made the decision to launch this mini-exhibit on our website. The in-person exhibit opened on Veterans Day 2021, and is on display at the ICC November 11–21 to honor those veterans born in Ireland and who served their new country. Learn more.
Thank you to all those who submitted photos and memories of their loved ones. We also thank the Mass Cultural Council for their support in developing this project.
Luke Ferriter was born around 1844, possibly in Teeravane near Ballyferriter, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. He and his family immigrated to the United States in the mid 1850s eventually settling in Brattleboro, VT where Luke’s father worked on the railroad. When the war started in 1861 Luke’s desire to join was frustrated by both his parents’ wishes and his prohibitively young age. Unperturbed, the seventeen-year-old ran away from home and walked the 36 miles to Springfield where he joined the Union Army under the assumed name of Charles L. Smith. Luke served with the 3rd Vermont throughout the conflict and was wounded at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864. He would eventually rise to the rank of Sergeant before being mustered out of service on July 11, 1865. He married Ellen Martin in 1867. Two years after her death in 1871, he married Eliza Fenton. He was a longstanding member of Brattleboro’s Irish community and a member of St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. Throughout his life, Luke remained proud of his Civil War service. He passed away on June 22, 1930, and is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Brattleboro.
Joseph (Joe) O’Shea was born in Couminole, Dunquin, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland on July 11, 1931. He was the son of Michael and Joan Daly O’Shea. Joe immigrated to the United States in 1958 and served his country in the United States Army as a corpsman. Joe married Teresa Kavanagh from Gortadoo, Co. Kerry, and they had three children: Kathleen, Teresa, and Michael. Joe worked for over 40 years at Baystate Gas Company. He passed away on April 16, 1991.
Patrick Joseph Fenton
Patrick Joseph Fenton was born on August 8, 1841 in the village of Carew, Parish of Dunquin, County Kerry, Ireland a son of Joseph Fenton and Elaine Fitzgerald Fenton. He came to the United States when he was seven years old, a voyage that lasted six weeks and two days and during which the vessel was on fire at one time. In 1849 his father moved from Holyoke, MA to Brattleboro, VT to work on the Vermont Valley Railroad. Upon completion of the road, the family came to Brattleboro in 1852. When the Civil War started, Patrick went to Connecticut and enlisted for three years in the 11th Connecticut Regiment. He was mustered out of the service on January 6, 1866. He was always proud of the fact that of the 25 Irish boys who went from this section to the front there was not a coward or a deserter among them. He married Sarah Hart on May 5, 1878. He passed away in May of 1916 and is buried in Brattleboro, VT.
Robert Stack was born in Annascaul, County Kerry, Ireland on August 28, 1907. He was the son of Patrick Stack and Ellen Hogan Stack. He immigrated to New York when he was around 21 or 22 years old. He enlisted in the service in January of 1943. He served with the Navy Seabees in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific during World War II until being discharged in October 1945. He had three brothers: Jack, James and Patrick, and one sister, Julia. He settled in this area because he had an aunt and an uncle here, Mary Hogan and Cornelius Hogan. The woman in the picture with him is his wife, Julia Enright Stack.
Thomas Lynch was born in Clohanduff, Ballydavid, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland on December 25, 1891. He immigrated to the United States in his late teens or early twenties and lived on Walnut Street in Holyoke. He worked as a laborer at the gas house of the Holyoke Gas and Electric Co. He enlisted or was inducted into the U.S. Army on July 9, 1918. He was a private in the 20th Battery, 13th Anti-aircraft Sector, Camp Eustis, VA. His company sailed to France on September 20, 1918 and arrived there on September 29. From the time of his arrival in France until December 31, 1918, he was part of the American Expeditionary Forces. He was honorably discharged from the United States Army in January of 1919.
Thomas P. Moore
Tom Moore was born in Dunquin, County Kerry, Ireland in 1905 a son of Patrick Moore and Kate Kane. He immigrated to the United States and on Valentine’s Day 1942 he married Catherine Kearney from the Great Blasket Island. In May of 1942, at the age of thirty-eight, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was sent to an air transport command base in West Africa and wouldn’t see his wife for the next four years. He returned to Springfield in 1946. Tom worked at the Springfield Armory until his retirement in 1967. Tom and Catherine had three children, Kathleen, Thomas, and Padraig who they raised in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood. They also had eight grandchildren. Catherine died in June 1987 and Tom followed her six months later in January of 1988. He was a hard worker and a man devoted to his family and his two countries.
Miles Garrigan was born in Ireland in 1830 and immigrated to the United States in 1846. His mother and father followed in 1849 and all settled in Brunswick, NJ. Miles married Frances Colton on April 27, 1851 in St. Peter’s Catholic Church in New Brunswick. They had four children: Michael, Thomas, Catherine, and Miles. The youngest child, Miles Jr., was born on December 3, 1863 seven months to the day that his father was killed in action on May 3, 1863 in the Battle of Salem Church in the Civil War. He is buried in an unmarked grave in Fredricksburg National Cemetery. He is the great grandfather of local resident Miles Garrigan who at 96 years old, is the only living congressional page from 1941 and he is a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Force.
Patrick (Paddy) Shea was born in Couminole, Dunquin, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland on February 24, 1926. He was the son of Michael Shea (O’Shea) and Joan Daly. He immigrated to the United States in 1948 and served in the United States Army during the Korean War. He married Ellen Cullinan from County Clare and they had three children: John, Mary Ellen, and Ann Marie. Paddy worked for the U.S. Postal Service for more than 35 years, retiring in 1987. He passed away on October 2, 2012.
John (Jack) Fenton was born on March 15, 1896 in the village of Ballincota, Ventry, County Kerry, Ireland. He was one of twelve children born to John Fenton and Mary McKenna. He sailed on the USS New York and arrived in New York City on June 20, 1915. He married Mary Keane of Dunquin, County Kerry on May 31, 1922 in Holy Name Church in Springfield, MA. John and Mary had nine children: Mary, Eileen, Anne, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Margaret, John, Madeline, and Patricia. John died on January 10, 1964 in Springfield.
John Lee (Seainin Liam) was born in Feothanach, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland in 1923. He immigrated to Springfield, MA in 1948 and five months later was drafted into the United States Army. After his tour of duty, he was drafted again in 1950 as the Korean War began. His company arrived in Pusan, South Korea in January 1951. In February, his company was sent out to remove a roadblock in Hoengsong fifty miles east of Seoul where they were ambushed by North Korean forces and Seainin and the other survivors were taken prisoner. For the next two and a half years he remained a POW. The war ended in 1953 and after his release he and his comrades sailed home to San Francisco. He arrived home in Springfield in October of 1953 and subsequently returned to live in Ireland.
Mike Brosnan was born in Minard West, Lispole, County Kerry, Ireland a son of Cornelius and Bridget (Kennedy) Brosnan. He immigrated to the United States in 1965 and was drafted into the United States Army in 1970. His basic training took place at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He served in Virginia and later in Germany. Mike married the former Hannah Quirke from Camp, County Kerry and they raised their four children Michael, Joe, Maura, and Ann Marie in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood.
Eugene Devine Sr.
Eugene Devine was born on July 4, 1895 in Milltown, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. He entered the United States Army on June 5, 1917. He was married to Elizabeth O’Sullivan from the Great Blasket Island. They had five children; Mary, Eugene Jr., Elizabeth, John, and Gerald; and thirteen grandchildren. They resided on Clantoy Street in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood. He died in August 1979 at eighty five years old.
James Stack was born in 1912 in Annascaul, County Kerry, Ireland, a son of Patrick Stack and Ellen Hogan Stack. He immigrated to the United States at age 12 on the SS Cedric to the port of Boston. He came to live with his sister, Julia, who was already living in Springfield and he attended Chestnut Junior High. He signed up for the United States Army the day after Pearl Harbor, served in Europe and attained the rank of Sergeant. He and his wife, Mary, lived in the Springfield area for years and later moved to Florida. James passed away in 1991 or 1992.
Maurice (Mossy) Murphy was born in Cahiratrant, Ventry, County Kerry, Ireland. He immigrated to Springfield, MA on June 13, 1948. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in December of 1948 and served at Fort Dix in NJ, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, and Fort Benning in Georgia. Upon being discharged he returned to Springfield. Once the Korean War started, he was drafted again and served in France and Germany. Mossy married Kathleen Doyle from Annascaul, County Kerry and they had five children: Margaret, Elizabeth, Tommy, John, and Dennis. Mossy proudly served the city of Springfield as a firefighter for twenty-six years.
Maurice Fenton was born on September 17, 1886 in Ballincota, Ventry, County Kerry, Ireland, a son of Maurice and Margaret (Sears) Fenton. He arrived in the United States on April 26, 1906 to his sister, Mary, in Bondsville, MA. There he was employed in his first job as a stonecutter. He later moved to a rooming house in the north end of Springfield, became a U.S. Citizen, and got a job at the Springfield Armory working on the garon rifle. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and because of his knowledge of the rifle was sent to the front lines in France to repair the guns to be sent back to the soldiers. After the war ended, the first thing he did was go back home to see his mother. In 1925 he married Mary Lane of Mountbellew, Ballinasloe, County Galway at Sacred Heart Church in Holyoke. They settled in Springfield and had three children: John, Maurice, and Margaret. He passed away on November 1, 1967. He was always proud of his new country and his service in the U.S. Army.
James (Jimmy) O’Shea was born in Couminole, Dunquin, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland on December 17, 1928. He was the son of Michael and Joan Daly O’Shea. He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War attaining the rank of corporal. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 32 years retiring in 1990. He was married to the former Elizabeth Williams from Cahirdargan, Dingle and they had five children; Elizabeth, John, Maureen, James, and Peggy. He passed away on April 22, 2012.
James J. O’Donoghue was born on December 30, 1894 in Glens, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. He arrived in Boston on the ship Franconia on May 7, 1913. He was eighteen and a half years old. He served in the U.S. Army. He married Elizabeth Fitzgerald of Moorstown, Dingle at Our Lady of Hope Church on October 16, 1923. Together they raised four children; Mary O’Donoghue Perry, Kathleen O’Donoghue Shea, Thomas F. O’Donoghue, and James J. O’Donoghue.
Patrick (Paddy) Kearney was born on January 25, 1924 on the Great Blasket Island. He was one of ten children born to Sean Tom Carney, a native of the island, and Neili Ni Dhalaigh (Nellie Daley) from Coumeenole. His siblings were; Cait, Sean, Seamus, Maurice, Mike, Martin, Maureen, Tom, and Billy. He arrived in the United States on June 25, 1948 sailing on the S/S Washington. He entered the U.S. Army sometime in the early 50s. Paddy passed away on January 24, 2001 and is buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Springfield, MA.
Micheal Mac Gearailt (Mike Fitzgerald), was born on February 22, 1938 in Marhain, Ballyferriter, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. He was the son of John P. Fitzgerald and Johannah Fenton Fitzgerald. He immigrated from Ireland in November of 1955 at the age of seventeen years old. He set sail from Cobh and arrived in New York where he was welcomed by his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and John Moriarty of Mooreland Street in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood. Mike volunteered for service in the armed forces of the United States Army on the 4th of September 1957. He spent the majority of his service time at the U.S. Army base in Munich and the U.S. Army garrison at Hohenfels, Germany. From there he visited his homeland on two occasions. Mike married Mary McGann of County Clare in Our Lady of Hope Church in Springfield on May 27, 1967. They returned to live in County Clare with their two children Sean and Katie in May of 1978. They had two more children in Ireland, Ciaran and Joan. Mike passed away on August 31, 2016.
Thomas O’Connor was born in Cloghane, County Kerry, Ireland in 1889. He was the son of Dennis and Nora (Dean) O’Connor. During World War I, he was stationed at Fort Hamilton, NY, with the 38th Artillery. He was honorably discharged in December 1918. He married Breda Murphy of Ballydavid, County Kerry, and they had three children and nine grandchildren. He passed away in 1978.
Edward J. Courtney
Edward Courtney was born in Stradbally, Castlegregory, County Kerry, Ireland. He was a son of Cornelius and Mary (Flaherty) Courtney. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was employed by the Holyoke YMCA. He was a member of the Layman’s Retreat League of the Passionist Monastery, the Holy Name Society of St. Jerome’s Church, and the John Boyle O’Reilly Club. He was married to Anna Martin.
Daniel J. Connor
Daniel J. Connor was born in New Market, County Cork, Ireland on February 4, 1893, a son of James and Margaret (Curtin) O’Connor. He immigrated to the United States at 18 years of age and settled in Amherst. He received a degree in Floriculture from the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1916. He married Mary J. Walker in 1917 in Holy Rosary Church in Holyoke. He enlisted in the Army in 1918 and was naturalized in Virginia in October of 1918. After the war he went to work at Mount Holyoke College. He retired as head of the greenhouse at the college. Daniel was a prize winning florist over many years and was recognized throughout the Valley as an outstanding and gifted flower grower. He was the father of Walker of Rockport, NY; Eileen of Hamilton, OH; and Dorothea Barry of South Hadley.
John Joe Williams
John Joe Williams was born in Cahirdargan, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland on December 14, 1929. He was the son of Elizabeth Martin from Camp and Francis Williams. He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and served his country in the U.S. Army during the Korean War attaining the rank of Sergeant. He was employed at Diamond Match for 29 years and then worked as a crossing guard for the Springfield Public School System. He married Margaret O’Connor and had one son, John F. Williams. He passed away on January 26, 2013.
Finian Michael O’Shea was born to Michael Shea and Nora McCarthy Shea on February 10, 1925 in Cloghanecarhan, Aghatubrid, Cahirciveen, County Kerry. Along with his parents and siblings, he settled in Chicopee, Massachusetts in 1930. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II in the European-North African theater as a minesweeper and signalman. After his return, he worked at General Electric until on St. Patrick’s Day 1953 he was appointed to the Chicopee Police Force under the watchful eye of his uncle, Finian Shea, then a patrolman on the Chicopee Police Force. He worked in various capacities until his retirement as Lieutenant Detective in 1980. In 1951, he married Noreen Curran whose parents immigrated to Springfield from West Kerry. Together they had five children: Kevin, Daniel, Andrew, Brian, and Mary. Finian died in December 2001 shortly after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary.
Patrick Michael Murphy was born in Cork City, County Cork, Ireland on October 23, 1937, a son of Michael and Josephine Murphy. He immigrated to the United States in 1954. Patrick served in the United States Navy from 1956–1958 and in the United States Marine Corps from 1959–1960. He is married to Avis Sargent Murphy.
Andrew Curran was born on July 3, 1893 in Ballinrannig, Ballyferriter, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. He was the son of Hugh Curran and Ann Houlihan. He immigrated to the United States on the SS Megantic that sailed out of Liverpool on April 21, 1915 and arrived in New York on April 30. He served as a Navy Seal on the underwater demo team during World War I. He married Catherine Boland on June 12, 1923. Andrew was a Springfield police officer who had the walking beat around Bottle Park in Springfield’s Hungry Hill neighborhood. He passed away on August 1, 1979 at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home.
Pat Talty was born in Miltown Malbay, County Clare, Ireland on March 12, 1928. He was a son of Patrick Talty and Ellen McMahon. He immigrated to Springfield, MA in 1948. He was inducted into the U.S. Army on December 7, 1950 and transferred to the Army Reserve on September 16, 1952. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal, and Combat Infantry Badge. He married Mary Margaret (Peggy) Keith on May 14, 1955 at Holy Name Church in Springfield, MA. They had four children: Bill, Ellen, Mary, and Kathleen.
Florence Burke was born in Schull, County Cork, Ireland in 1829. He immigrated to West Springfield in 1848 with his brother. Florence was nineteen years old at the time. He married Ellen Daly and had three children. In 1864 he enlisted as a “substitute” in the Civil War for Julius Day, who had been conscripted, in exchange for $300 and a parcel of his land. He fought in Virginia as a private in the 37th Regiment before dying in the Battle of Petersburg on June 19, 1864. Florence Burke has been part of an Irish Famine exhibit in Dublin, Ireland for the past three years. His letters were donated to the Burns Library at Boston College in 2018.
Eugene Patrick O’Shea was born to Michael Shea and Nora McCarthy on January 7, 1924 in Cloghanecarhan, Aughutbrid, Caherciveen, County Kerry. He arrived in Chicopee, MA about 1930 with his parents and siblings.
When he started school at St. Patrick’s in Chicopee, like many of the Irish, his family dropped the letter “O” in their surname. Up until the time he joined the Navy, his last name was Shea. On his eighteenth birthday, one month after Pearl Harbor, he and his friend, Charlie Burnham, enlisted in the Navy. The recruiter, looking at Gene’s birth certificate, stated, “Your name is O’Shea, not Shea.” From that day forward it was O’Shea.
He was stationed on the USS Anne Arundel and USS Zircon. When he left the Navy in late 1945, he started work at General Electric in Holyoke. When the GE plant was winding down and moving to Pittsfield, he took the civil service exam and was hired as a firefighter for the city of Chicopee in 1957 and retired in 1988.
He married Cecilia Dowd from the Hungry Hill section of Springfield, whose parents hailed from Castlemaine, County Kerry. Together they had five children: Noreen, Timothy, Mary, Patrick and Eugene. Gene passed away at the age of ninety on March 15, 2014.
Dennis Fenton was born on November 28, 1886 in Ballincota, Ventry, Co Kerry, Ireland. He immigrated to the United States on April 12, 1906, settling in Fitchburg, MA. Three of his brothers, Maurice, Michael, and John settled in Springfield, MA. He entered the United States Army on April 25, 1916.
In the 1920 Olympics, Dennis was a member of the U.S. Army sharpshooter team. That year, he won three Gold Medals and one Bronze for the United States. In the 1924 Olympics he won a Bronze medal as a sharpshooter.
He passed away on March 29, 1954 and is buried in the FT Rosecrans National Cemetery in CA.